Horner affair now ‘private’ after new anonymous leak – Red Bull

Mar.1 (GMM) Red Bull GmbH, the parent company of the dominant Formula 1 team, insists the scandal that put the sword of Damocles over team principal Christian Horner’s entire career is now “private”.

After the company ended its investigation into Horner’s alleged and mysterious bad behaviour involving a female staff member by re-affirming his position at the top of Red Bull Racing, rival duo Toto Wolff and Zak Brown continued to charge against Horner.

In the team principals’ press conference in Bahrain on Thursday, for which Horner had not been summoned, they hit out at the fact that the details of Horner’s supposed misdeeds have been kept private.

Wolff, team boss and co-owner at Mercedes, slammed the “pretty basic” media statement that Red Bull had put out – and piled more pressure on the FIA and F1 to reveal that their “position” on the matter is.

“I just think that as a sport, we cannot afford to leave things in the vague and in the opaque on critical topics like this,” said the Austrian.

“Eventually … we are in a super transparent world,” Wolff added. “Eventually things are going to happen. And I think we have the duty, or the organisation has the duty, to say ‘well we’ve looked at it and it’s Ok’ and then we can move on.

“I think it’s sometimes very short-sighted to try to, you know, suppress it.”

Not long after Wolff and McLaren CEO Brown made these comments, and coinciding with the start of afternoon practice for the season opening Bahrain GP, the saga took its next – and dark – turn.

An email from an anonymous account was sent to every single annually-accredited F1 journalist in 2024, and all of the sport’s leading figures including Stefano Domenicali.

It linked to a tranche of nearly 80 screenshots, photos and videos that Horner and the unnamed female staff member had allegedly sent one another via WhatsApp.

Without diving into the details, it appears that Horner had clearly had a sexual affair with the woman. La Gazzetta dello Sport characterised the messages as mainly “embarrassing conversations”, which veteran Blick correspondent Roger Benoit admitted were essentially “nobody’s business”.

“We’ll leave it to the tabloid media to pounce on the details,” said Auto Motor und Sport journalist Tobias Gruner.

In response to a new influx of media enquiries, Horner said in a statement: “I won’t comment on anonymous speculation, but to reiterate, I have always denied the allegations.

“It was a thorough and fair investigation conducted by an independent specialist barrister and it has concluded, dismissing the complaint made.”

According to former F1 driver Giedo van der Garde, the physical and mental strain is clearly showing on Horner.

“You really notice that he seems affected by this,” he told Viaplay. “You can see that he (Horner) has lost weight, but I think it’s also had an influence on the team.”

Another ex-driver, Christijan Albers, senses that the wider power struggle, now involving Horner’s paddock enemies as well as the Austrian and Thai shareholding factions at Red Bull GmbH, is still raging.

“It’s a difficult issue, because if nothing was going on we wouldn’t be talking about it. Clearly something is happening, but no one knows exactly what,” he said.

Former Red Bull driver Robert Doornbos told NOS: “The competition will of course be using this to destabilise the team. That in itself is logical and it would also happen the other way around.”

As for Red Bull Racing’s parent company, however, it now suggests that it is walking away from the affair, calling it a “private” matter for Horner.

“This is a private matter between Mr Horner and another person and it would be inappropriate for Red Bull to comment on this,” a spokesman told De Telegraaf newspaper.

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