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SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 15: Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner looks on in the Paddock prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 15, 2023 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Horner and the turd that won’t flush from the Red Bull toilet

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 15: Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner looks on in the Paddock prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 15, 2023 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

British media have been emailed access to WhatsApp messages and photos that thrust Christian Horner’s career in Formula 1, as Red Bull team principal, into further jeopardy, while triggering increased scrutiny and consternation from the paddock, ahead of the 2024 Formula 1 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.

The Red Formula 1 team boss seemed to have emerged the ‘victor’ in the case against his accuser, alleging inappropriate behavior by Horner, when he flew into the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix exonerated by the team’s parent company, after a lengthy and intense internal investigation by the company.

An anonymous email to F1 and FIA Chiefs as well as F1 team Principals containing hundreds of WhatsApp messages including screenshots supposedly from Horner and the accuser’s mobile phone. However the authenticity has to still be established.

This story has taken another vicious turn as if there appears to be a vendetta of sorts, with Horner clearly the target of a relentless attack which he seemed to survive and indeed triumph. But now 24-hours later it’s becoming evident that his tenure as team principal and CEO is again very much at risk.

Reports claim that Max Vesrtappen’s father, Jos Verstappen was also a recipient of these emails and was seen in the team pit garage during Friday’s free practice for the season opener in Bahrain.

Emails with links to a Google Drive file were sent F1 senior figures

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Motorsport.com report: “The emails, which contained a link to a Google Drive file containing the documents, stated: Following Red Bull’s recent investigation and statements you will be interested to see the materials attached.”

Horner responded to the fresh allegations with the following statement: “I will not comment on anonymous speculation, but to reiterate I have always denied the allegations.

“I respected the integrity of the independent investigation and fully cooperated with it every step of the way. It was a thorough and fair investigation conducted by an independent specialist barrister and it has concluded, dismissing the complaint made. I remain fully focused on the start of the season.”

24-hours-earlier, Horner was exonerated by Red Bull’s head office in Austria, who instigated the independent investigation: “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.

“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.”

Brown: My personal opinion is we can’t really look behind the curtain

Brown: I didn't mention teams, just volunteered our opinion

With his close ties to Motorsport Network (he was their non-executive Chairman until 2019) McLaren CEO Zak Brown is quoted by them: “I’ve read this statement. I think, from what I’ve seen, there continues to be a lot of rumours, speculation, and questions.

“I think the sanctioning body has a responsibility and authority to our sport, to our fans, and I think to all of us in Formula 1… I think they need to make sure that things have been fully transparent with them.”

Horner’s old sparring partner, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was also unrestrained, telling reporters in Bahrain: Wolff said: “Well, I just read the statement, which was pretty basic. My personal opinion is we can’t really look behind the curtain. At the end of the day there is a lady in an organisation that has spoken to HR and said there is an issue and it was investigated.

“And yesterday, the sport has received the message: ‘It’s all fine. We’ve looked at it’. I believe that the aspiration to be a global sport on such critical topics, it needs more transparency. And I wonder what the sport’s position is?”

Wolff: This is going to catch us out

horner wolff getty

“We are competitors. We are a team,” continued the Mercedes F1 boss. “And we can have our own personal opinions or not. But it’s more like a general reaction or action that we as a sport need to assess what is right in that situation and what is wrong.

“I think the sanctioning body has a responsibility and authority to our sport, to our fans, and I think to all of us in Formula 1… I think they need to make sure that things have been fully transparent with them.”

“I think until then, there will continue to be speculation because there are a lot of unanswered questions about the whole process. I think what’s needed by those that run the sport is to really be able to draw a line under it.

“Until then, I think there will continue to be some level of speculation by people, and I don’t think that’s healthy for the sport.

“I just simply think that, as a sport, we cannot afford to leave things in the vague and in the opaque on critical topics like this, because this is going to catch us out,” warned Wolff, whose verbal altercations with Horner is the stuff of legend.

50-year-old Horner is a giant of modern F1. The longest-serving team principal who has led Red Bull Racing since its inception.

At the helm during the team’s first great era with Sebastian Vettel, and most recently under his watch Max Verstappen established himself as the new King of Formula 1. Horner’s role in F1, leading his team in particular, has been immense, irrespective of where this saga takes his legacy.