Christian Horner’s F1 future at stake in crucial Friday meeting with investigator (2024)

Christian Horner’s future in Formula One hangs in the balance as the Red Bull team principal prepares for a crunch meeting on Friday where he must defend himself against allegations of inappropriate behaviour that might end his career.

On Friday at an undisclosed location believed to be in central ­London, Horner will sit down with an ­English KC, appointed by Red Bull ­Racing’s parent company, the drinks ­manufacturer Red Bull GmbH, and face questioning on the allegations made by a female employee that he used what is understood to have been described as “controlling” behaviour in his interactions with her.

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The employee is believed to have already presented her ­evidence, which includes physical ­documentation, to the barrister, and Horner now must make his case to save his job and his career. He has taken legal representation and intends to defend himself robustly.

Horner has already emphatically denied any wrongdoing but must now provide substantive arguments to verify his claim. It will be as intense and as ­crucial a moment as any he has faced in 20 years in F1.

The 50-year-old is the longest-serving team principal currently working in F1, having been taken on by Red Bull when the team entered the sport in 2005. He is also, alongside Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, one of the two most successful principals of the modern era. Whether there are further achievements ahead and the nature of the legacy he leaves will now depend on what he can present to the barrister heading the inquiry on Friday.

Christian Horner and Red Bull: what has happened and what comes next?Read more

Since the news broke that Horner was under investigation it has ­dominated F1, far ­overshadowing this week’s series of car launches for the 2024 season. It took Horner as much by surprise as the rest of the paddock when Red Bull Racing’s parent company announced on Monday it had opened an investigation into the team principal and was ­unequivocal that it had every intention to deal with the matter properly.

“After being made aware of ­certain recent allegations, the ­company launched an ­independent ­investigation,” it said in a statement. “This process, which is already under way, is being carried out by an external specialist barrister. The ­company takes these matters extremely ­seriously and the investigation will be completed as soon as practically possible. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

The female employee has not been named nor any details of her complaint made public, other than that the behaviour in question was “controlling” in nature, indicating it was likely an employee with whom Horner must have had personal interaction. Red Bull Racing have made no formal comment since the announcement and Horner too has not commented beyond the statement that “I completely deny these claims” he made on Monday.

Red Bull are set to launch their 2024 car on Thursday of next week and the hope within the team is that the matter is resolved before then. It is understood no decision will be announced immediately after the meeting but that the KC will consider the evidence of their inquiry over the weekend before delivering his conclusions to Red Bull.

Christian Horner’s F1 future at stake in crucial Friday meeting with investigator (1)

Rumour and conjecture have surrounded the case since it began, amplified by the lack of comment and information coming from either Red Bull Racing or the parent company while the investigation is under way.

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However, supporters of Horner have indicated that he has been shocked and disturbed by what they believe to have been a power ­struggle over the team that lies behind the investigation. They consider it an attack from Austria by the parent company, with one source describing it as an effort to “clip his wings or remove him from the job altogether”.

Horner’s allies argue that the ­inappropriate behaviour defined as “controlling” in nature was not aggressive or bullying and that ­perception of his actions will be key in making his case.

He occupies an ­unusual position in F1 in that he is not only the team principal of Red Bull Racing but also the CEO of all three of its arms: Red Bull Racing, Red Bull Powertrains and Red Bull Advanced Technologies. He controls the business side as well as the ­sporting operation.

Before the death of the founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, in October 2022 the owner was happy to leave Horner running the entire show. This is believed to have changed with the appointment of Oliver Mintzlaff as managing director. Mintzlaff is reportedly being considered as a potential replacement for Horner.

Supporters argue that the ­motivation behind the parent ­company’s handling of the situation is an attempt to destabilise Horner in order to potentially remove him. Red Bull GmbH have yet to comment on this interpretation.

Horner has reigned over a period of extraordinary success for Red Bull as they have won six constructors’ world championships and seven drivers’ titles. They have dominated the past two seasons with an exceptional car and driver, in the form of Max Verstappen, buta sudden change of management or of team principal would leave the team reeling with the new season set to begin in Bahrain on 2 March.

Christian Horner’s F1 future at stake in crucial Friday meeting with investigator (2024)


What was the result of the Christian Horner Enquiry? ›

The Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, has been exonerated of any wrongdoing by an independent investigation into allegations of inappropriate controlling behaviour made against him by a female member of staff. Horner had repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and insisted he would robustly defend himself.

What is happening with Christian Horner's Red Bull? ›

Red Bull Racing's parent company Red Bull GmbH announced in late February that Horner had been cleared of the allegations after a private, independent investigation and the employee, who has not been named, subsequently launched an appeal against the decision.

What are the F1 allegations? ›

Last year, allegations surfaced against Susie Wolff, the managing figure at the F1 Driver Academy, and Mercedes chief Toto Wolff. The controversy ignited when the FIA announced it was investigating potential conflicts of interest, spurred by reports of possible confidential information being shared inappropriately.

Who is the female Red Bull employee? ›

This article relies excessively on references to primary sources. Please improve this article by adding secondary or tertiary sources. Hannah Schmitz (née McMillan; born May 1985) is a British engineer, currently working for Austrian Formula One team Red Bull Racing as Principal Strategy Engineer.

Why did Max Verstappen retire? ›

Max Verstappen has explained that an issue with his right-rear brake which started at the very beginning of the Australian Grand Prix was the reason behind his early retirement from the race.

Is Adrian Newey moving to Ferrari? ›

Now, Newey is set to leave early next year, with Ferrari the most likely destination for his services where he would potentially form a partnership with Lewis Hamilton in Italy in 2025.

Who is Fiona Hewitson? ›

Fiona Hewitson, based in London, GB, is currently a Executive Assistant at Red Bull Racing & Red Bull Technology, bringing experience from previous roles at James Hinchcliffe, KV Racing Technology and MB Partners.


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