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Red Bull Boss Christian Horner Under Investigation For Alleged Misconduct Toward Team Employee

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner attends the Team Principals Press Conference during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 27, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico.
Clive Mason/Getty Images

On Monday, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner was under investigation for inappropriate conduct. The team officially confirmed that an independent investigation by an external lawyer was ongoing, while Horner denied the allegations of misconduct. Much of the current reporting cleaves close to convention for Formula 1, which is to say that it is scattered and mostly not in English. It is unclear what exactly the complaint is—BBC Sport reported that "the claims relate to an allegation of inappropriate behavior of a controlling nature" with an employee—but both Horner and the employee are expected to meet with the investigator on Friday.

Horner has been a staple of Red Bull Racing for its entire F1 tenure, joining after the company bought the Jaguar Racing team (f.k.a. Stewart Grand Prix). He predates all of the other big names that compose Red Bull's championship history, bar Helmut Marko: Adrian Newey, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen.

More than that, Horner—along with Marko—is Red Bull's media darling in the sense that people love it when team principals stir enough shit to make headlines. He also—unlike Marko—has a claim to British tabloid fame through his marriage to Geri Halliwell (f.k.a. Ginger Spice), which has been helpfully spotlighted for the public through Drive to Survive. And with Verstappen artfully dodging any sort of Drive to Survive appearance, it's Horner who picked up the slack. Whether or not you believe that Horner is truly necessary for Red Bull's success when Marko and Newey exist, he represents Red Bull in the public imagination. Better, perhaps, than Marko taking up that task.

You really can't talk about Red Bull without talking about Marko, and it's worth mentioning that Horner's possible exit comes on the heels of a rumored feud between him and Marko. To be clear, it's highly unlikely that the investigation is some Marko-engineered plot to oust That Pesky Horner from his seat, but it was rumored, despite Verstappen's strong denial, that one of Marko and Horner would eventually be forced to leave Red Bull. Marko, as advisor, is an employee of Red Bull, the energy drinks company proper; meanwhile, Horner's contract possibly has implications for Newey's.

This speculation will all be rendered useless if Red Bull clears Horner of any wrongdoing, or, even acknowledges wrongdoing but permits Horner to stay in his position as team principal. Beyond the Friday meeting, no timeline has been given on the investigation, but the F1 season looms: Red Bull is set to launch its car for the 2024 season on Feb. 15, one week before the sixth season of Horner propaganda vehicle Drive to Survive premieres.

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