Race Weekend Central

Slipstream Saturdays: The Full Christian Horner Situation So Far

A couple of weeks ago, one of the largest Dutch news sources began what is now a series of reports outlining serious concerns surrounding Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner.

De Telegraaf reported on February 5 that Horner was under investigation by the overseeing energy drink company after a Red Bull employee filled a complaint to HR.

Red Bull, at the time, put out a statement that confirmed that there was an active investigation. Horner strongly denied and still strongly denies any wrongdoing on his part.

On February 9, de Telegraaf and numerous other outlets reported that Horner met with investigators in London to deliver his statements and to answer questions from an independent London barrister.

Red Bull offered no official statement prior to its car launch of the RB20 this week as their presentation, which centered around a theme of unity and teamwork, went off with no mention of the larger story.

In media breakaways at the launch, Horner reiterated that he was innocent, although he did admit the investigation had been a bit of a distraction. Max Verstappen stated that his relationship has not changed with Horner. Both he and Sergio Perez asserted that they wanted Horner to stay as leader of the organization.

Then, a couple of days after the launch, Telegraaf finally published an update delivering clarity on the extent of the allegations.

The full details can be found in their article, but the relevant details are simple. A female RBR employee complained to HR about Horner’s “sexual transgressive behavior.” She and her lawyer have allegedly saved all text/personal messages with Horner, and are attempting to go the legal route after turning down an offer from Horner to settle the case for ÂŁ650,000 or $819,300.

Again, it should be stressed here that Horner has denied all allegations. The only thing that is official is that both the team has confirmed there is an investigation that is going on, and a statement from Ford Motor Company (its latest partner) that the AP reported on in the hours after the most recent Telegraaf article came out.

It should not be that difficult to figure out where things stand on this issue. If the Red Bull employee does have damning messages between herself and Horner, and Horner really did offer a settlement, Horner should be out of the door at Red Bull.

It is ridiculous if that is correct, that Horner has not been put on formal suspension until at least after the investigation concludes. Part of why an investigation occurs during situations like this is to determine if this type of behavior is a one-off or if it is a culture problem with multiple issues.

Just look at the details of the Vince McMahon situation regarding his behavior at World Wrestling Entertainment from the last month. It was already public knowledge that McMahon had faced serious sexual abuse allegations in his past. But a lawsuit brought on by a former employee with horrifying details (and text messages to back them up) became a terrible thing for both McMahon and the WWE, who are co-defendants in the lawsuit and have endured a new wave of allegations from new and old accessors.

The Ashley Massaro situation has been a particular black eye for all parties involved, and one that should have been at the very most the event that ended the cycle instead of being just another example.

I’m not saying Horner did anything as vile as McMahon is alleged to have done. But situations like this may not just have one single victim and allowing Horner to continue actively working at Red Bull instead of suspending him is just gross.

Horner has been a key part of Red Bull’s success, as the main team’s only team principal in its history and a boss who has overseen multiple F1 dynasties. Even if these allegations end up being the end of his road at the company, he’s ensured at least a couple more championships with the procurement of engineering wizard Adrian Newey and a number of other key non-driver personnel.

But nobody is above a noticeable drop in brand value, not to mention the potential of a new OEM leaving before a partnership is even in effect due to a behavior clause in the contract. The only person in the entire Red Bull organization big enough to potentially get around that would be Verstappen, and even he wouldn’t be untouchable in the current day and age.

For the good of the company and race team, Horner should resign if there is any truth to the matter. It would only damage both his legacy and the legacy of the team he has built to continue on if the investigation finds him guilty of these counts.

About the author

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.

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Shayne

NASCAR hasn’t issued a statement regarding the WWE?

Christopher

What a moronic article.

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