First details on the questioning of Christian Horner by an independent investigating lawyer and why there is still no result in the matter
The question of whether Red Bull Racing will start the 2024 Formula 1 season with or without team principal Christian Horner cannot yet be answered. Although Horner was questioned in London on Friday, as expected, the investigation by the external investigating lawyer appointed by Red Bull GmbH in the matter is not yet complete
Horner, according to reports including the Daily Mail, was brought to the interview in a black BMW. According to Sky information, this was originally supposed to take place at the team headquarters in Milton Keynes. However, to avoid reporters gathering there, the appointment was moved to a secret location in London.
The interview began at around 8:45 in the morning and lasted more than eight hours, according to various media reports. However, Friday did not end with a statement from Red Bull on what would happen next, which some fans had hoped for.
A hope that was unfounded from the outset, however. During his interview, Horner had his first opportunity to discuss his side of the story with the investigating lawyer, after one of his closest employees at Red Bull Racing had previously made allegations against him.
Incidentally, the specific content of the allegations is the subject of sometimes wild and rarely consistent speculation in the Formula 1 community – but ultimately not publicly known
Horner’s statements must now be verified
However, it was clear from the outset that there would be no result on Friday. Now that Horner has been able to defend himself for the first time, it is very likely that the investigating lawyer will now conduct further interviews to examine Horner’s statements.
Interviews with other Red Bull Racing employees had already taken place in the run-up to Horner’s questioning. These included the employee who made the allegations, as well as other employees, such as the manager.
The name of the employee who made the allegations against Horner is now known in insider circles. However, most media – including our editorial team – refrain from publishing the name in order to protect the privacy of the person concerned.
Why the issue is a sensitive one for Liberty Media
In the meantime, the Horner affair is keeping Formula 1 busy far beyond the borders of Red Bull. Bernie Ecclestone, as a close confidant of Horner, is said to have intervened in the matter in an advisory capacity with several telephone conversations, and Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali is also rumored to be very interested in the topic
The background to this is that in the USA, the home of Formula 1 rights holder Liberty Media, sensitivity to issues of abuse of power is very high, especially since the MeToo affair surrounding Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein – which also applies to the North American stock market.
However, whether the allegations against Horner can even be put in the same drawer, and even if they can, whether they can be proven, is another matter entirely. The investigating lawyer should clarify this with his independent investigation. For Horner, the presumption of innocence naturally applies.
It is clear that Red Bull would prefer to have the matter off the table by the team presentation for 2024 on February 15. However, it is even more important that the investigation is conducted fairly and transparently, and that could well take longer. Possibly, as some insiders suspect, even until after the start of the season.
The first Grand Prix of the 2024 Formula 1 season will take place on March 2 (Saturday) in Bahrain.