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Ford CEO frustrated by lack of transparency surrounding Horner investigation

Ford CEO frustrated by lack of transparency in Horner investigation

Ford CEO frustrated by lack of transparency surrounding Horner investigation

The CEO of Ford Motor Co. insisted on a resolution into the investigation of Red Bull team principal Christian Horner in a letter sent to the team, a copy of which was obtained Sunday by The Associated Press.

The letter dated Friday from Ford CEO Jim Farley expressed his displeasure with “the unresolved allegations of inappropriate behavior by Red Bull Racing leadership.”

Farley noted it had been 11 days since Ford, which is set to become Red Bull´s engine supplier in 2026, first requested further information into the investigation Red Bull’s parent company announced on February 5 into allegations made against Horner by a team employee.

Red Bull has given no public details on the accusations, which were initially characterized internally as an investigation into Horner´s “aggressive management style” but have now shifted to reports of sexual misconduct.

Horner has denied any wrongdoing and said he also wanted a quick resolution to the investigation.

“As we have indicated previously, without satisfactory response, Ford´s values are non-negotiable,” Farley wrote in the letter. “It is imperative that our racing partners share and demonstrate a genuine commitment to those same values. My team and I are available at any time to discuss this matter. We remain insistent on, and hopeful, for a resolution we can all stand behind.”

Ford so far is the only one of Red Bull’s corporate partners to speak publicly on the Horner investigation. The company reportedly sent an initial letter to Red Bull – seemingly what Farley referenced in Friday’s communication – but the AP has not seen the first letter.

Ford on Sunday declined to comment

Horner: With a partner like Ford our path different from Honda

Formula 1 and governing body FIA both issued statements pressing Red Bull for a resolution. But neither Larry Ellison, co-founder of Red Bull title sponsor Oracle, or Ryan McInerney, CEO of Visa, have replied to requests for comment from the AP. Visa in January was announced as title sponsor for Red Bull’s junior team in Visa’s first new global sports partnership in 15 years.

Farley’s letter expresses clear frustration with the pace of the investigation. In the time since Red Bull’s Austria-based parent company revealed it was looking into allegations of misconduct, Horner has continued in his role as team leader of the three-time reigning world champions.

Horner was at the launch of the 2024 car two weeks ago, spent last week with the team testing in Bahrain, and has said he expected to be the team principal when the F1 season opens next weekend.

Farley wrote that although Ford trusts the investigation is fair, the company is “increasingly frustrated, however, by the lack of resolution or clear indication from you about when you anticipate a fair and just resolution of this matter.

“We are likewise frustrated by the lack of full transparency surrounding this matter with us, your corporate partners, and look forward to receiving a complete account of all findings.”

Farley ended the letter calling for “prompt and serious attention” to the matter.

The Horner investigation has consumed the F1 community as the start of the new season and Max Verstappen’s bid for a fourth consecutive title are just days away. There were reportedly nearly 100 pieces of evidence introduced during a deposition of Horner, who allegedly offered his accuser a six-figure settlement.

His fate, though, is complicated no matter what the investigation finds.

Red Bull was founded by Dietrich Mateschitz and Chaleo Yoovidhya, a Thai pharmacist. Mateschitz died last year and although his son, Mark, runs the company, the family holds only 49% ownership of Red Bull.

The remaining 51% is owned by Yoovidhya, and Horner´s future with Red Bull could come down to a standoff between the two families. (Reporting by Jenna Fryer)