Horner scandal outcome expected early this week

Tue, 27 February 2024, 10:00

Feb.27 (GMM) The Christian Horner scandal is finally coming to its end, with Red Bull executives tipped to resolve his future in Formula 1 as he jets back to Bahrain on Wednesday.

It is believed the investigation into Horner’s behaviour based on the accusations of a female team member is now complete, with Red Bull overlords in Austria now in possession of a 100-page dossier.

But the affair has been protracted and murky, earning condemnation from former Formula 1 personality Eddie Jordan – who is very close friends with Red Bull technical guru Adrian Newey.

“I have seen many wrong decisions in my time,” he told Auto Bild, “but the Red Bull situation is the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen.

“Of course there is initially the presumption of innocence for Christian. But does anyone seriously believe that the employee made up the allegations? And if Horner is innocent, does that mean she’s guilty?

“Red Bull’s image damage is already huge,” Jordan added. “Someone has to pull the ripcord now.”

The question is who really pulls those strings. Since Dietrich Mateschitz’s late 2022 death, an obvious power struggle has raged at Red Bull between the two founding shareholders – the Austrians and the Thais.

Mateschitz’s son Mark is now in charge in Austria, but in Thailand, it is Charlem Yoovidhya who arguably has more power as the single largest shareholder.

And Yoovidhya, until now, has been backing Horner.

“For Chalerm, Horner is a kind of foster son,” said former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher. “He stands by him unconditionally.

“And whether we like it or not, the unfortunate reality is that our Western values of equality have not yet arrived in Thailand. The role of a woman is viewed differently there.”

On the Austrian side of the equation, though, Horner appears to have almost no support whatsoever – with bosses there set to meet to dive into the 100-page investigation dossier on Tuesday.

A decision about Horner will then quickly follow on Tuesday or Wednesday – prior to the weekend’s opening race of the season.

“We all want a quick solution now,” Dr Helmut Marko told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

The good news for Red Bull is that the team has built an obvious title-defending car for 2024, with Schumacher agreeing that Horner’s absence will make little difference to that.

“The structures are already in place,” Ralf told DPA news agency.

“There’s been a lot of unrest inside the team so the question is whether the people are so divided that they can’t actually work together anymore.

“For Max Verstappen, whose basic confidantes are his father Jos and Helmut Marko, it is important that nothing changes for him among the mechanics and engineers.”

He thinks an easy quick solution for Red Bull would be to pull the recently-retired former Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost out of retirement.

“That would be an obvious solution, but Franz and Helmut? That wouldn’t work.”

But Schumacher says that if an acceptable successor is named quickly, “then I don’t see any danger for the team. I can imagine that another person is also able to manage Red Bull Racing.”

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