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Horner ‘absolutely committed’ as Red Bull F1 boss amid probe

MILTON KEYNES, UK — Christian Horner says he remains “absolutely committed” to Red Bull’s Formula One team despite an ongoing investigation into reported allegations of controlling behavior made by a female employee, which he has denied.

Red Bull Racing’s parent company, Red Bull GmbH, said earlier this month it had commenced an investigation into Horner after becoming aware of the allegations.

A hearing took place on Friday, conducted by an independent barrister in London, but no further action or outcome has yet been announced. Red Bull GmbH said in a statement last week before the hearing that it took the allegations “extremely seriously.”

Speaking at the launch of Red Bull’s new F1 car, the RB20, on Thursday, Horner said his focus was “very much on the season ahead” and the team’s title defense.

“Some allegations have been made which I fully deny,” Horner said. “I’m complying with that process, and will continue to do so until its conclusion.”

Although he declined to discuss details regarding the ongoing investigation, including a timeframe for a resolution, Horner said it had been “business as usual” for him as Red Bull’s team principal, going into the factory each day to help prepare for the new season.

Horner said he has not thought about backing away from his role. He added that he would be in Bahrain, which hosts F1 preseason testing from Feb. 21-23 and the opening race of the 2024 season on March 2.

“I’ve built this team,” Horner said. “I’ve convinced people to come here and work here. I enjoy working with the team, with the people. The biggest asset of this team is the people. And that continues to be the case.”

Horner has been in charge of Red Bull’s F1 operation since the energy drink giant acquired the Jaguar team ahead of the 2005 season, making him the sport’s longest-serving team principal.

Under Horner, Red Bull has won seven drivers’ championships, including each of the last three courtesy of Max Verstappen, six constructors’ titles and 113 grands prix.

Horner claimed the support of Red Bull’s shareholders had been “fantastic,” noting the commitment to the F1 team and its wider projects, including its future engine program with Ford and its advanced technologies division.

“We’re one team, and that support has been very clear,” Horner said.

Red Bull enters the 2024 season as the heavy favorite to defend its titles, and Horner did not think the ongoing investigation would pose any kind of distraction to its preparations.

“At moments of uncertainty, it brings the team together, and I’ve never seen the team more together or more supportive than it is,” Horner said.

“Everybody’s focused on one thing, which is the performance of that car, to go out and defend both the world titles that we’ve worked so hard to achieve over the past couple of years.”

Verstappen, the three-time world champion, also denied the investigation could overshadow preparations, saying morale was “fantastic” and that everyone in the team was “very focused and motivated.” He also said his interactions with Horner had been “like normal.”

But the team instructed the media that Verstappen and teammate Sergio Pérez could not answer questions about the ongoing process, with Verstappen saying: “No, because you will come up with stories again around it, and then there’s speculation.

“It’s better to just not ask anything about it, and just wait for the process.”

The launch of Red Bull’s car was staged as a celebration of the team’s history, including appearances from key figures such as chief technical officer Adrian Newey, technical director Pierre Wache and David Coulthard, who scored the first Red Bull F1 podium at the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix.

Coulthard drove the first Red Bull F1 car, the RB1, in a demonstration alongside Verstappen in the RB20 car at Silverstone on Wednesday during a filming day.

The event gave Verstappen a first chance to sample the new Red Bull car, which features a number of modifications from last year’s model that won 21 out of 22 races, becoming the most dominant car in F1 history.

Detail shot of the RB20 seen during the Red Bull Racing car launch in 2024 (Courtesy of Red Bull F1)

The changes include a Mercedes-style engine cover and “shoulder,” as well as alterations to the sidepod, an area in which Red Bull set a design trend the last two years. But the team kept the true design of the car’s floor hidden, meaning the RB20 will only be fully revealed when preseason testing starts in Bahrain next week.

Detail shot of the RB20 seen during the Red Bull Racing car launch in 2024 (Courtesy of Red Bull F1)

“For sure it’s better,” Verstappen said of the new car. “I think we’re happy with what we have done. Of course we don’t know how much other people have improved, but we’re happy.

“It’s not like we felt like we underachieved or whatever. I think we’re proud of what we have put on the car.”

(Photo: Giuseppe Cacace / AFP via Getty Images)

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