Horner meets FIA chief Ben Sulayem in Bahrain to discuss Red Bull investigation

Alleged leaked evidence from the Red Bull Christian Horner investigation has kept the story in the headlines ahead of the 2024 Bahrain GP


Christian Horner missed his 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix FP3 duties to meet with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and discuss the controversy over his Red Bull investigation into inappropriate and controlling behaviour.

Ben Sulayem is also set to meet F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali at the Bahrain GP to address the situation after supposed evidence was leaked just after the end of FP2 – around 24 hours after Red Bull had cleared Horner of any wrongdoing.

Horner was spotted on qualifying day in Bahrain after reiterating his denial of any wrongdoing following the leak, but TV pictures only showed him in conversation with Red Bull communications and PR staff.

Sky Sports‘ pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz then confirmed he wasn’t on the pit wall during FP3 because he was meeting Ben Sulayem – though Horner did return to trackside late in the session.

Red Bull GmbH – the F1 team’s parent company – completed their investigation into complaints of inappropriate behaviour against Horner made by a female team employee with no further action against the team principal.

However, messages and images supposedly sent between the pair were sent to the press, then the public which has reignited the story and the FIA‘s International Sporting Code does give them the power to intervene.

Red Bull employed an external lawyer for their investigation, which included Horner apparently attending an eight-hour session to defend his actions, but their statement clearing the team principal was very light on the specific details of the case.

McLaren and Mercedes bosses Zak Brown and Toto Wolff both criticised Red Bull‘s lack of transparency around the investigation, with their original conclusion to the investigation reading:

“The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete, 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.”

What could F1 or the FIA do next?

Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – August 26, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, FIA President Mohammed bin Sulayem, Audi Chairman, Markus Duesmann and Audi Chief Development Officer, Oliver Hoffmann as German manufacturer Audi announce they will join the Formula 1 World Championship from the 2026 season as a power unit supplier REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Article 12.2.1.f outlaws “Any words, deeds or writings that have caused moral injury or loss to the FIA, its bodies, its members or its executive officers, and more generally on the interest of motor sport and on the values defended by the FIA.”

However, any intervention to remove the boss would be unprecedented in recent memory. Renault boss Flavio Briatore resigned from his position after the Crashgate controversy was made public, but that announcement came just days before he was meant to face an FIA World Motorsport Council hearing in Paris.

Ben Sulayem weighing into the Andretti debate in 2023 earned a sharp backlash from F1 teams and even threatened his position, so any external action on the Horner situation wouldn’t be taken without heavy consideration.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, and previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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