Toto Wolff brands Red Bull statement on Horner ‘basic’ and ‘lacks transparency’

Christian Horner was accused of controlling and coercive behaviour but Red Bull dismissed the allegations after an internal investigation

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Christian Horner might have been cleared of inappropriate behaviour by Red Bull GmbH but the matter is far from over as the Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, slammed the statement for lacking the openness required in modern sport.

Horner’s name came under serious accusations of misconduct to a female member of staff at Red Bull Racing, with some outlets even suggesting that he had engaged in sexually suggestive messaging which was considered inappropriate.

But on Wednesday, February 28, Red Bull released a statement saying that their investigation was “fair, rigorous and impartial” and that the “grievance” has been dismissed, allowing him to continue in his role as team principal.

They further added that the report is confidential and private information and that no additional comments will be added, leading to Horner’s long-time rival in Wolff to slam the statement’s privacy.

“Basic,” Wolff said when asked his opinion on the statement. “My personal opinion is we we can’t really look at behind the curtain.

“At the end of the day there is a lady in an organization that has that has spoken to HR and said there is an issue and it was investigated.

“And yesterday, the sport received a message, ‘It’s all fine. We’ve looked at it,’ and I believe that with desperation, as a global sport, on such critical topics it needs more transparency.

“And I wonder where the sport is? What the sports position is. We are competitors. We are team and we can have our own personal opinions or not, but it’s more like a general reaction or action that we as a sport we need to assess what is right in that situation and what is wrong.”

Wolff warns of impact on F1

An abuse scandal is certainly nothing that the sport wants to be associated with and even Red Bull’s future engine sponsor, Ford, alluded to the reputational damage it could have received if Horner wasn’t cleared of the charges.

Wolff further alluded to this by warning that Red Bull GmbH and Liberty Media have a “duty” to the sport to be open about what exactly happened and why they have decided to dismiss the claim against the 50-year-old’s name.

This could be a surprisingly personal matter to Wolff after his own wife, Susie, was accused of giving confidential information to the Mercedes boss by a media outlet.

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner at 2024 F1 Testing | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner at 2024 F1 Testing | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

She was then investigated by the FIA and quickly cleared of any wrongdoing so the lack of transparency on Horner‘s case, with a more serious accusation against him, could be a personal gripe.

“I just simply think that as a sport,” Wolff added. “We cannot we cannot afford to leave things vague and opaque on critical topics like this because it’s going to catch us out eventually.

“We are in a super transparent world, things are gonna happen and I think the organisation has a duty to say, ‘Well, we’ve looked at it and here’s where it’s okay,’ and then we can move on.

“I think it’s sometimes very short sighted to try to suppress it but I’m not saying this has happened. We’re standing from the outside and looking at it through just statements or press releases.

“It just seems that it’s not as modern as things go in this world, in the real world out there, but maybe in F1 we just have a little bubble and we think we think that’s okay.”

Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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