Christian Horner investigation impact on Red Bull questioned as ‘distraction’ continues

Christian Horner is currently being investigated by Red Bull GmbH.


Red Bull’s investigation into Christian Horner could have huge implications for the racing team if the two sides do end up parting ways.


Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner remains in his position as the F1 2024 season begins, despite the parent company’s investigation into his alleged behaviour stretching into another week.


Speaking at last week’s launch of the RB20, Horner continued to deny all allegations against him and admitted that the investigation is proving something of a distraction for the race team as they gear up for another F1 season.


Sam Bird: Christian Horner investigation won’t affect Red Bull’s performance


While the matter remains under investigation, all the concerned parties remain tight-lipped about the facts of the situation, while rumours swirl about the nature of the allegations and how the investigation is proceeding.


Addressing the topic on the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast, journalist Andrew Benson and McLaren Formula E driver Sam Bird discussed how the investigation could have ramifications for Red Bull over the coming season and beyond – regardless of the outcome of the investigation.


“It’s going to be a distraction for the team in as much as I think it’s really damning for people involved with the team, so sponsors and potential sponsors,” Bird said about the situation.


“It’s not good for your image, is it, for your team boss to be accused of the things that he’s been accused of is – quite frankly – shocking for Red Bull.


“But, at no point do I think it’s going to affect their performance on track.


“Max isn’t going to be getting into his car at Red Bull thinking, ‘Oh, I wonder what’s going to be happening with Christian and the allegations’.




“Adrian Newey hasn’t been thinking about that for the last eight months while he’s been plotting making this masterpiece of a car that could be scintillatingly quick when it hits the track in a couple of days time.


“This car has been many, many months in the workshop and being developed and honed. They had the most amazing year last year, they’ve got a massive leap on everybody else.


“They will continue, I think, to win from the offset this year. So I don’t think it’s going to be too much of a change when it comes to Bahrain – I think you’ll still see Red Bull at the front.”


But Bird said the fallout could make itself felt later in the season, particularly if any sponsors choose to disassociate themselves from the Red Bull F1 team.


“I think that things will start to happen later on in the year and next year if partners leave, if sponsors leave,” he said.


“If Adrian Newey leaves or other team personnel leave because of the ramifications of this allegation.


“I think it’s business as normal when it comes to putting the car on the track – Max Verstappen jumps in the car, Max Verstappen goes and delivers. But what happens behind closed doors, and then six to 12 months down the line, with regards to key personnel at that team?


“That’s going to be really, really interesting. I’ve heard that Helmut Marko is contractually with Red Bull, but am I right in saying that that contract is [up] the end of the year?


“He’s not happy about that. That’s what I’ve heard – that has really upset him that it was up after one year. He and Christian are really clashing now, is what I’ve heard. He doesn’t have an ally in Christian anymore and Christian certainly doesn’t have an ally in him.”


Benson also pondered whether Adrian Newey, the team’s chief technical officer who has a close relationship with Horner, could choose to leave if the team boss does end up parting ways with Red Bull.


“Newey has come really close to joining Ferrari at least twice, and then got cold feet right at the end. Could that happen again?” he said.


“There are already rumours, strong rumours, many people in Formula 1 believe that Pierre Wache, who is the technical director at Red Bull under Newey, that he’s already on his way to Ferrari.


“That’s not proven at the moment, but lots of people are talking about it in Formula 1 as if it’s a done deal. I’ve got no proof.”


Benson also hypothesised that, should Horner depart and sporting director Jonathan Wheatley was overlooked as his successor, it could lead to the team also losing another strong member of the squad.


“I was hearing the other day that, if Horner was going to lose his job, Wheatley might be eyeing promotion into team principal role,” Benson said.


“But it seems like the Austrians, if Horner goes, want to bring in an Austrian to run the team.”


Bird said that, while the implications of the current situation haven’t yet been felt, the on-track effects could make themselves known over the coming seasons.


“The domino effect that this could have, if he leaves – if he’s found guilty – is other personnel leaving,” Bird remarked.


“If Jonathan Wheatley wants to get that promotion, and he doesn’t get it because the Austrians bring in other people, then he leaves?


“If a load of these key people leaves Red Bull – now this car could be brilliant, and they might go and win another World Championship this year.


“It’s the next car and the next car, that’s when we’ll see the effect of this. It’ll take time for us to see an effect on track but we will see an effect on track, potentially, if he’s found guilty.”


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Gideon Canice

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