Toto Wolff addresses Christian Horner investigation: An issue for all of Formula 1

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is under an internal investigation over allegations of ‘inappropriate behaviour’

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Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff before the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix | Pool via REUTERS/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff before the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix | Pool via REUTERS/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

With the ongoing investigation into Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s conduct, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has called for a rigorous inquiry into the allegations, while also pointing out that the overall issue is one for Formula 1 as a whole and not an individual team. 

Allegations of ‘controlling and inappropriate behaviour’ came to light during the Formula 1 off-season, with Red Bull commissioning an internal investigation into the matter which could lead to Horner losing his position at the team. 

“I think it’s clear. Formula 1 and what the teams do, we stand for inclusion, equality, fairness, diversity and that’s not only talking about it but living it day in, day out,” Wolff told the press in Bahrain, when responding to a question about Horner’s situation 

“And I think these are the standards we’re setting ourselves. We are a global sport, one of the most important sports platforms in the world, and we are role models.

“But having said that, there is a lot of speculation that’s been happening over the last weeks, speculation that we have heard of, and lots of things that are going on.

“I think what’s important in that stage, for a process with rigour. I think what Red Bull has started as an independent investigation, if this is done in the right way with transparency and with rigour. 

“I think that’s something that we need to look at, what the outcomes are and what it means for Formula 1, and how we can learn from that.

“Because we want to talk about racing cars and we want to talk about the sport rather than these kind of very critical topics, that are more than just a team’s issue, it’s a phenomenon or it’s an issue for all of Formula 1 and in general for every individual that works out there.”

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

What is Christian Horner accused of?

Dutch publication De Telegraaf first first reported the accusations of behaviours which crossed the line with allegations of sexual misconduct being made by a Red Bull employee against Horner who has vehemently denied these allegations.

De Telegraaf also claims to have seen sexually suggestive messages sent by Horner to the employee over an extended period. Rumours of these allegations were reportedly circulating in the F1 paddock throughout the 2023 season.

Further developments include reports by Motorsport-Total.com that Jos Verstappen leaked the information to the Dutch press. Additionally, Helmut Marko has refrained from publicly supporting Horner, and there are rumors of strained relations between Horner and Adrian Newey, among others within the Red Bull team.

Despite potential internal disagreements, Red Bull co-owner Chalerm Yoovidhya, who owns a 51 percent stake in the company, reportedly supports Horner. This support comes amidst speculated tensions between Horner, Marko, and other key figures, including Red Bull GmbH director Oliver Mintzlaff.

Horner was present and fulfilled his media obligations at Red Bull‘s car launch in Milton Keynes, alongside team members including Newey, Max Verstappen, and Sergio Perez. And is also in Bahrain for pre-season testing, emphasizing a focus on the upcoming season and cooperation with the ongoing investigation.

Horner has expressed confidence in the team’s unity and focus on the season ahead, highlighting the collective anticipation for the RB20’s performance in Bahrain. He reiterated the continued support from shareholders and his commitment to the forthcoming racing season.

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