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Red Bull deny shareholders have turned on Christian Horner amid new claims

Red Bull issue fresh statement to deny shareholders have turned on Christian Horner after new report
Christian Horner (right) has had a gruelling week - Getty Images/Clive Rose

Red Bull Racing denied on Sunday night that Thai majority owner Chalerm Yoodivhya had turned on team principal Christian Horner after a German website reported he would be fired before the next race in Australia.

A report on F1-Insider.com, a website which is also understood to have a close relationship with Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko, claimed that Yoodivhya, who owns 51 per cent of Red Bull GmbH, was now of the same opinion as fellow shareholder Mark Mateschitz (49 per cent), and chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff, and was minded to dismiss Horner before the next race in Australia in two weeks’ time.

A spokesperson for Red Bull Racing said: “As Christian has said, he is grateful for the full support of the shareholders and that remains the case.”

Yoodivhya has been a strong ally of Horner’s throughout the internal investigation into allegations of controlling behaviour levelled against him by a female colleague.

The Thai attended the season-opener in Bahrain earlier this month, along with his wife, in a public show of support for Horner.

Telegraph Sport understands Yoodivhya met with Mintzlaff and Franz Watzlawick (CEO Beverages) in Dubai on Sunday, where he lives, presumably to discuss the next steps in the long-running saga.

Horner was cleared of the allegations on Feb 28 following a lengthy investigation carried out by a specialist external barrister. But he remains under huge pressure.

Jos Verstappen, the father of Red Bull’s three-time world champion, publicly called for Horner to quit after the first race in Bahrain, saying the team would “explode” if he remained in post.

The furore blew up again at the second race of the season in Saudi Arabia last week, where Red Bull were once again victorious on the track and in absolute chaos off it.

First Verstappen, when asked whether he supported his father’s opinion on Horner, said he would “always be a team” with his father. Then Marko revealed on Austrian television that he might be suspended by Red Bull, leading to speculation Verstappen might try to trigger the mysterious ‘escape clause’ in his contract, which allegedly allows him to leave should Marko ever be fired.

Verstappen poured petrol on that speculation when he said on Friday night that he could “not continue” at Red Bull without the man who brought him into Formula One.

In the end, Marko doused the flames a little when he told reporters on Saturday that he would be staying at Red Bull, adding that he had had “a good conversation” with Mintzlaff, who was also in attendance in Jeddah.

But there undoubtedly remains huge tension between Horner and Marko, with the latter switching flights back from Jeddah, travelling with Verstappen instead of Red Bull’s team principal, as had originally been planned.

There is now a fortnight before the next race in Australia, in which time it is likely to become clear whether Horner’s accuser, who was suspended by Red Bull in the wake of the investigation, intends to appeal the verdict; whether she starts legal proceedings, which is another rumour which has been floated; and whether any action is forthcoming against Marko.

It is understood there is a separate internal investigation ongoing at Red Bull into the leaks which have taken place over the last few weeks.

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