Christian Horner: Timeline of events at Red Bull following investigation into F1 team principal

Charting the timeline of tumultuous developments at Red Bull before and after the conclusion of the investigation into team boss Christian Horner, which saw the grievance made against him dismissed

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was spotted talking to Jos Verstappen in the paddock at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Footage courtesy of Sky Italy.

February 5: Red Bull confirm investigation into Horner

Red Bull GmbH, the parent company of the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team, based in Austria, confirm that Christian Horner is under investigation.

In a statement, Red Bull GmbH state: “After being made aware of certain recent allegations, the company launched an independent investigation.

“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 allegations against Horner are understood to relate to a claim of inappropriate behaviour made by a female colleague. Horner, who remains in his dual role of team principal and CEO, says he “completely denies” the claims made against him.

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February 9: Horner attends first meeting with external barrister

In his first interview with the external specialist barrister carrying out the investigation for Red Bull, Horner is questioned in a London meeting which is understood to have lasted more than eight hours. No resolution is reached on the matter in that first interview.

February 15: Horner speaks for first time at Red Bull launch

With the investigation into him ongoing, Horner faces the media for the first time since the matter became public at the launch of Red Bull’s 2024 F1 car at an event at their Milton Keynes base.

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Following an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour, Christian Horner defends his position at Red Bull by saying ‘it’s business as usual’.

Appearing front and centre of the team’s presentation in a launch that also featured Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Adrian Newey, Horner subsequently conducts several rounds of interviews with attending TV and written media and is questioned heavily on the investigation.

Horner publicly denies the allegations and, while he states that he can not comment on the specifics of the matter, says he is cooperating fully with the investigation process. He adds that it is “business as usual” at the team ahead of the new season and, speaking to Sky Sports News, also denies reports of internal rifts with either Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport advisor, or the Verstappens, world champion Max and his father Jos.

February 18-19: Statements from F1 and the FIA

Formula 1 issues its hitherto sole statement on the Horner situation.

“We have noted that Red Bull has instigated an independent investigation into internal allegations at Red Bull Racing,” reads the statement. “We hope that the matter will be clarified at the earliest opportunity, after a fair and thorough process and we will not comment further at this time.”

The FIA, motorsport’s world governing body, issues its own formal statement two days later, in which it says: “In relation to the independent investigation currently being undertaken by Red Bull GmbH, the FIA reiterates that until such time as the investigation has concluded and the outcome is known, we will not be commenting further.

“The FIA remains committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity, fairness and inclusivity within the sport.”

February 20: Horner attends pre-season testing

The Red Bull team boss arrives at the opening day of pre-season testing in Bahrain to oversee the world champion team’s start to the new campaign on track.

Image: Horner on the pit wall on the first day of testing in Bahrain

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal, is also in attendance at the test and in the year’s first F1 team bosses’ press conference calls for “transparency” on the investigation and its eventual outcome from Red Bull.

Wolff describes the matter as “an issue for all of Formula 1”.

February 22: Horner speaks again in press conference

On the second day of testing, Horner faces questions from the media again as he appears in his first official F1 press conference of the year.

In contrast to the more expansive answers he gave at Red Bull’s car launch the week before, he responds to the two questions he faced related to the investigation by saying he “really can’t comment on the process”.

He does though reiterate that everyone is keen for a conclusion into the matter “as soon as possible”.

February 27: Outcome expected before start of new season

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Sky Sports’ Craig Slater shares the latest update on the Christian Horner investigation and says the decision on the Red Bull team principal’s future won’t come before Wednesday.

Sky Sports News reports that a conclusion from Red Bull’s investigation is likely to come before the start of the season-opening Bahrain GP later that week.

Horner travels back to the UK from Bahrain in the short gap between the end of testing and the first day of the opening race weekend at the same track.

February 28: Allegations against Horner dismissed

The opening media of F1’s 2024 season ends with the news at around 6.30pm local time in Bahrain that Horner will remain in his role at Red Bull after the allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against him were dismissed.

A Red Bull GmbH statement reads: “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.

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Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle, Damon Hill and Naomi Schiff react to Red Bull’s statement that Christian Horner will continue in his role as Red Bull team principal after allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against him were dismissed.

“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.”

February 29: Horner reiterates denial after leak of alleged investigation material

Speaking to Sky Sports News in the Bahrain paddock the morning after the grievance was dismissed, Horner says: “I’m just pleased that the process is over.

“Obviously, I can’t comment about it, but we are here very much to focus now on the Grand Prix and the season ahead and trying to defend both of our titles.”

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner speaks for the first time after allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against him were dismissed. The complainant has the right to appeal the verdict.

He also insists “within the team it has never been stronger” when asked about unity inside the F1 squad.

Mercedes’ Wolff and McLaren’s Zak Brown reiterate their calls for greater transparency during the day’s FIA press conference.

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Christian Horner confirms he will be in Jeddah to lead Red Bull at the Saudi Grand Prix.

Later that day during the evening’s second practice session material purporting to be the alleged evidence in the investigation is leaked to numerous media organisations and F1 team principals from an anonymous email account.

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Sky Sports’ Craig Slater provides an update surrounding Christian Horner after Red Bull’s principal released a personal statement following more alleged leaks regarding a case against Horner for inappropriate behaviour.

In a personal statement from Horner issued in response, the Red Bull team principal says: “I won’t comment on anonymous speculation but to reiterate, I have always denied the allegations.”

March 1: F1 and FIA chiefs meet at Bahrain GP

F1 president Stefano Domenicali and his FIA counterpart Mohammed Ben Sulayem meet in Bahrain to discuss the investigation. Horner also speaks to the pair individually and is seen in discussion with Ben Sulayem in the pit lane during the final practice session.

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Christian Horner was missing from the pit wall during P3 as he went to speak with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem at the Bahrain GP.

March 2: Horner defiant after Bahrain GP

Horner is joined at the track by his wife Geri ahead of the race. Red Bull’s 51 per cent majority Thai owner Chalerm Yoovidhya is also present and pictured with the pair in parc ferme after Verstappen comfortably won the season-opening event.

Having overseen the team’s dominant start to the new season on the track with a one-two finish, Horner then conducts his usual media activities after the race. He says he “absolutely” expects to still be in charge for the following week’s Saudi Arabian GP, and beyond.

“Obviously it’s not been pleasant, the unwanted attention,” he later says to written journalists. “But the focus is now very much on the cars. My focus has very much been on what’s going on on-track and the result today I think demonstrates where the whole team’s focus is and we move onwards.”

March 3: Jos Verstappen’s explosive intervention

In hard-hitting comments from Jos Verstappen published after the race, Max’s father tells the Daily Mail that “the team is in danger of being torn apart” if Horner remains in his position.

“There is tension here while he remains in position,” Verstappen Snr said. “The team is in danger of being torn apart. It can’t go on the way it is. It will explode.”

Image: Christian Horner and Jos Verstappen in the Bahrain paddock

It is understood that while the comments were made before the Saturday race, Verstappen still stood by them afterwards. Sky Italy’s cameras capture Horner and Verstappen in conversation after the race.

Verstappen Snr’s remarks lead to fresh speculation about world champion Max’s future at the team despite his contract running to the end of 2028.

March 4: Horner meets with Verstappen’s representative

Horner has a face-to-face meeting with Max Verstappen’s representative in Dubai in a bid to iron out rising tensions. Yoovidhya is also thought to be present.

March 7: Horner’s accuser suspended

It is reported by the PA news agency that Horner’s complainant has been suspended following Red Bull’s investigation into the team principal. Sky Sports News understands the complainant has been suspended on full pay. Comment is sought from representatives of the complainant.

The complainant retains the right to appeal the dismissal of the grievance.

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Following comments from Max Verstappen’s father Jos Verstappen, Red Bull boss Christian Horner says the trio have agreed to move on for the season ahead.

Hours after news emerges of the suspension, Horner appears in the FIA press conference on the opening day of the Saudi Arabian GP and says: “I can’t comment on anything that’s confidential between the employee and the company.”

And in the wake of Jos Verstappen’s comments the week before, Horner says: “I think it’s in everybody’s interest, collectively, that we’ve agreed to move on, to focus on the future.”

He also says he is “certain” that Max will stay at the team.

March 8: Marko casts doubt on his future, Verstappen issues veiled quit threat

With focus increasing on the relationships between the key players inside F1’s world champion team, veteran advisor Marko suggests to Austrian TV that he could either face suspension, or leave of his own accord, amid media reports at the race that the 80-year-old was under investigation in connection with information leaks around the Horner probe.

The Red Bull advisor also says he is meeting Oliver Mintzlaff, Red Bull’s CEO who oversees the company’s sports projects, on Saturday.

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Max Verstappen says his future with Red Bull is dependent on them keeping advisor Helmut Marko at the team.

Max Verstappen swiftly underlines his loyalty to Marko, who brought him in to F1 as a 17-year-old on Red Bull’s junior programme, by insisting the Austrian “has to stay” in his role.

Asked directly by Sky Sports F1’s Rachel Brookes if Marko needed to stay for him to also stay, Verstappen said: “I’ve always said that to the team, they know that.”

March 9: Marko says he’s staying, Mercedes’ Wolff confirms Verstappen interest

Marko arrives in the paddock on race day with Mintzlaff and tells reporters he will not be suspended or leaving the team. Mintzlaff, meanwhile, says “of course” when asked if he expected both Marko and Verstappen to stay.

Image: Helmut Marko and Oliver Mintzlaff at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

In the Jeddah race, Verstappen takes a second successive dominant race win, with Perez once more second, to continue Red Bull’s 100 per cent start to the season on track.

After the race, Horner responds to the latest critical comments from Jos Verstappen – who is competing in the Hannut Rally in Belgium and not in attendance in Jeddah – in the media before stressing that everyone at Red Bull is focused on continuing to win on track. He adds: “Max is part of the team, Helmut is part of the team, I lead this team and everybody has a key role to play in it, and that’s it.”

In his media session after the race, Wolff confirms he “would love” to have Verstappen in his team for 2025 as a replacement for the Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton at the end of the year

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Christian Horner says ‘no one individual is bigger than the team’ as he answers questions on whether Helmut Marko or Max Verstappen are leaving Red Bull.

In response, while Horner says he could not see why Verstappen or any driver would want to leave a winning car, does also say “you can never say never” about the threat of the Dutchman deciding to leave before the end of his contract.

“It’s like anything in life. You can’t force somebody to be somewhere just because of a piece of paper,” added Horner. “If somebody didn’t want to be at this team, then we’re not going to force somebody against their will to be here.”

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Max Verstappen says his future with Red Bull is dependent on them keeping advisor Helmut Marko at the team.

Verstappen, who welcomes the earlier news about Marko, ends a tumultuous Jeddah weekend by stressing his desire to see that “everyone keeps the peace” at Red Bull.


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