Horner saga should end to stop ‘rumours’ – Marko

Wed, 21 February 2024, 08:00

Feb.21 (GMM) Dr Helmut Marko says he is hoping for a swift resolution to Red Bull’s current management crisis surrounding embattled long-time F1 team boss Christian Horner.

It is now confirmed that Horner, whilst his entire career hangs from a thread over the accusations of a female staff member, has indeed travelled to Bahrain for the pre-season test beginning on Wednesday.

He is scheduled to attend the team principals’ press conference during the lunch-break on Thursday, with an outcome to Red Bull’s independent investigation perhaps not now expected until after the first grand prix of the season next month.

Marko, who has been implicated in a power struggle with Horner, plays down the impact of the saga so far.

“Luckily the car was already built and we are ready,” he told Osterreich newspaper.

And he also now tells the Red Bull-owned broadcaster Servus TV: “As you know, this is an internal investigation. The sooner a result is available the better, because obviously rumours and other stories are bound to crop up due to the long duration.

“But Red Bull has reacted very well to this situation. The long duration is not their fault – they are trying to conduct a fair process and act accordingly.”

Also implicated in the power struggle is the camp surrounding Max Verstappen – especially his father Jos. But triple world champion Max last year spoke up for Marko amid suggestions the 80-year-old may lose his role in F1.

Marko is now signed up for three more years. When asked why he still supports the notorious Austrian, Verstappen told motorsport-magazin.com: “Because he’s important for the team.”

Horner appears to be struggling to get the same sort of support from Verstappen – with Horner’s wife Geri even briefly ‘unfollowing’ Max on social media in the past few days.

Red Bull’s 2026 engine partner Ford has also joined Formula 1 and the FIA in making a public statement about the Horner saga, with La Gazzetta dello Sport insisting that “according to sources, Ford has the option to leave Red Bull if it wishes”.

Jos Verstappen’s former manager Frans Verschuur, however, is not as certain as some others that Horner will almost certainly lose his job over the affair.

“As long as the FIA doesn’t interfere and it isn’t bad for the sport, it is an internal matter at Red Bull,” he told the F1 Aan Tafel podcast. “If the FIA doesn’t think he should be suspended, I don’t think it’s so bad.”

It seems that the entire public nature of the scandal was triggered by the reporting of De Telegraaf – a Dutch newspaper traditionally very close to the Verstappen camp.

“De Telegraaf fantasises a lot, of course,” Verschuur said. “I think what may be the case is that there has been a battle between Thailand and Austria since (Dietrich) Mateschitz died.

“The (Thai) co-owner with 51 percent will pull the strings a little more and is more on Horner’s side, but Marko is more on the Austrian side,” he added. “It’s a bit of a split – they can’t all go through the same door.

“But as long as he (Horner) hasn’t killed anyone. Did he once scold someone and sent them a message? But even if Horner has to leave, it means nothing for Max. Everyone is ultimately replaceable.”

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