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Horner says ‘business as usual’ at Red Bull despite probe into his conduct

Christian Horner insisted it is “business as usual” at Red Bull but admitted an investigation into his conduct has proved a “distraction” ahead of the 2024 Formula One season.

Red Bull’s team principal faced questioning for eight hours at an internal hearing in London last week after allegations emerged in the Dutch press of a complaint being made against the 50-year-old Englishman by a female employee regarding “inappropriate behaviour.”

Horner, married to former Spice Girls pop star Geri Halliwell, categorically denies the accusation but the matter could still be unresolved by the time the new campaign starts in Bahrain in just over two weeks’ time.

Red Bull were dominant on the track in 2023, winning 21 of 22 Grands Prix as Max Verstappen romped to a third consecutive Drivers’ Championship.

“Inevitably there has been a distraction, but the team are very together and everybody is focused on the season ahead,” said Horner as Red Bull launched their RB20 car for the new season on Thursday.

“It’s been very much business as normal. The support has been fantastic.”

Horner said he looked forward to travelling to Bahrain next week, where testing will begin on February 21, as he dismissed rumours of a split in the Red Bull camp.

“I think the team are gearing up for the season ahead,” added Horner, speaking at Red Bull’s factory in Milton Keynes, northwest of London.

“We’re in good shape, we’re fully focused on going racing, looking forward to being in Bahrain next week and seeing RB20 run. The one thing that focuses everybody’s attention is seeing the car run. We’re very together and united in that focus.”

– Verstappen ‘always with Christian’ –

Verstappen also rebuffed any suggestion his relationship with Horner had become strained.

“I don’t know who likes to write these kind of things but to me and Christian, it is like always,” said the Dutch driver, now concentrating on getting himself in peak physical condition to defend his title.

“I am very focused on my performance on my side to get ready, to be fit, to be ready to drive the car, to be discussing things with the engineers,” added Verstappen.

“Plus my life is not only Formula One. When I’m at home I prefer not to think about it too much outside of my schedule and training.

“There are a lot of things going on in the background. I’m more than busy enough.”

Verstappen is a huge favourite to claim a fourth consecutive world title, but the 26-year-old accepted his dominance posed wider problems for Formula One.

“Yes and no,” he said when asked if he would like to face stiffer competition on the track.

“I like to win races like we have done last year, but for the sport as a whole you want more teams (to be competitive).”

A stiffer challenge is expected when several regulation changes take effect in the 2025 season.

By then, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is set to be driving for Ferrari after the British racer announced his shock departure from Mercedes earlier this month.

“Everybody was surprised, including his existing team, about Lewis’ move to Ferrari,” said Horner. “He’s obviously seen something there that serves him better than staying where he is.

“For Formula One a Lewis-Ferrari tie up is really exciting. He’s got still a season to go with his existing team, but he’s proven in the past he’s not shy of making brave decisions.

“His move from McLaren to Mercedes (in 2013) looked not to be the right one at the time but proved to be an inspired one.”

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