Zak Brown: McLaren would be honest about Christian Horner decision

Christian Horner was cleared of coercive and controlling behaviour after an internal investigation by Red Bull

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McLaren’s CEO Zak Brown promised his team would have been ‘transparent’ about the decision to clear Christian Horner of inappropriate conduct after Red Bull GmbH declared they would no longer comment on it.

Horner was accused of controlling and coercive behaviour by a female employee, which was thought to be connected to his management style as the team principal of the defending world champions.

But on Wednesday, February 28, the 50-year-old was cleared following an investigation by an external lawyer, with Red Bull stressing they will no longer comment due to the sensitive information involved and that the ‘grievance’ has been dismissed.

“I’m very confident at McLaren,” Brown told the media when asked how he would have handled the Horner situation. “I think like most companies, we’ve had issues that we’ve had to deal with, and we deal with them in a very transparent, fair, and swift manner and that’s all I can say.

Brown added: “I think this the other topic [Horner] is one that really needs to be dealt with. By the regulator. They’re the ones that have the authority and responsibility to do so.”

Red Bull‘s statement closing the investigation contained no further details of the allegations themselves but a leak supposedly containing evidence against Horner was leaked online around 24 hours later.

Even before the investigation closed there were reports suggesting it could be a complaint about sexually-related messages with the lack of clarity on which one it was really highlighting how in-the-dark everyone has been kept on the topic.

So, in summary, we still have no idea what has actually happened and that’s led to significant figures such as Toto Wolff, the Mercedes boss, to criticise the secrecy saying it lacks the openness required of the modern world and the McLaren CEO admitted he would’ve handled the situation differently.

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner ahead of the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix |  Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner ahead of the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

What did Red Bull say?

After an almost month-long process, Red Bull’s Austrian holding company declared that Horner is free to continue in his duties and the case has been dismissed, although they did confirm that the employee has the right to appeal the decision.

The process had seen Red Bull turn to an external lawyer and Horner face an eight-hour long enquiry in London to explain the case to the two owners of the company before they sided with him.

“The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete,” a statement read. “And Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed.

“The ­complainant has a right of appeal. Red Bull is ­confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.

“The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned.

Red Bull will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards.”

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