Christian Horner’s Red Bull future to be resolved before car launch next week

Christian Horner's Red Bull future to be resolved before car launch next week
Christian Horner is under investigation concerning allegations of ‘inappropriate controlling behaviour’ towards a female colleague - Getty Images/ANP

Christian Horner will be interviewed on Friday regarding allegations of inappropriate controlling behaviour towards a female colleague, with all parties anxious to reach a conclusion before the launch of Red Bull’s new car on Thursday, February 15.

Formula One was rocked on Monday by the news that Horner, the longest-standing team principal in the paddock, had been placed under investigation by parent company Red Bull GmbH in Austria.

Red Bull Austria said that after being informed of “certain recent allegations” it had hired an “external, specialist lawyer” to look into the claims. In a statement, it added that it would “not be appropriate to comment further at this time”.

Horner, 50, issued a firm denial on Monday, saying: “I reject these claims entirely.”

The Red Bull principal, who represented the team as usual in Monday’s F1 Commission meeting in London, was also working on Tuesday. There is no suggestion at the moment that he will be stood down pending the outcome of the investigation.

Rumours first surfaced last weekend that Red Bull Austria had compiled a “dossier of incriminating material” regarding alleged inappropriate controlling behaviour on the part of Horner towards the colleague in question.

As the matter is now the subject of an official independent investigation it seems unlikely any of that alleged material will surface any time soon.

Telegraph Sport understands the allegations stem from the Mexico race weekend towards the end of last season. Horner’s accuser, who is also still working at Red Bull while the investigation is carried out, is also due to be interviewed on Friday, with all parties eager to conclude the investigation before the launch of the RB20 a week on Thursday.

There is minimal scope to move the launch date. Unlike the Mercedes launch the day before, which will be a virtual affair, Red Bull’s unveiling is due to take place live at the factory in Milton Keynes. It is scheduled to be a big occasion, with scores of journalists due to speak to Horner and triple world champion Max Verstappen.

Horner and Marko were forced to deny reports of power struggle last year

Pre-season testing takes place in Bahrain from February 21-23, with the first race of the season, also in Bahrain, on March 2.

The investigation comes amid whispers of an internal battle going on behind the scenes at Red Bull. Horner is not only team principal but chief executive of Red Bull Racing, Red Bull Powertrains and Red Bull Advanced Technology. In total he is responsible for around 1,500 employees.

The parent company has undergone a management restructure since the death of Red Bull co-founder and billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz who died in October 2022, aged 79.

Red Bull is now owned by Mateschitz’s son Mark Mateschitz (49 per cent) and Chalerm Yoovidhya (51 per cent) who is the eldest son of Chaleo Yoovidhya, the originator of Krating Daeng and co-creator of the Red Bull brands of energy drinks.

Oliver Mintzlaff, a senior executive within the Red Bull football division who used to be chairman of RB Leipzig, was appointed chief executive of corporate projects and investments in November 2022. He effectively oversees all Red Bull operations not related to the beverage business, including its sports partnerships.

Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s 80-year-old motorsport advisor, still wields significant influence behind the scenes.

Both Horner and Marko were forced to deny reports last year that the outspoken Marko might be ousted as part of a power struggle. The Austrian signed a new three-year deal with the energy drinks manufacturer over the winter.

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