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Red Bull boss Horner under pressure over leak of alleged messages

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was under renewed pressure on Friday after private messages allegedly between him and a female staff member were leaked to Formula One officials and journalists.

Horner, 50, was cleared by the team on Wednesday after an internal investigation into his behaviour towards a female colleague and has vehemently denied the accusations against him.

On Thursday, a file of messages and pictures was emailed to leading figures in Formula One and dozens of international news organisations, including AFP, from an anonymous source.

It is not known if the contents of the file, which cannot be revealed for legal reasons, formed part of the accusations against him.

Horner, who was on Friday supervising Red Bull’s cars in qualifying for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, which takes place on Saturday, said: “I won’t comment on anonymous speculation, but to reiterate, I have always denied the allegations. 

“I respected the integrity of the independent investigation and fully cooperated with it every step of the way.

“It was a thorough and fair investigation conducted by an independent specialist barrister and it has concluded, dismissing the complaint made. I remain fully focused on the start of the season.”

Red Bull’s parent company suggested the team believed the email of allegations sent on Thursday amounted to a private matter.

“This is a private matter between Mr Horner and another and it would be inappropriate for Red Bull to comment on this,” a spokesperson for Red Bull GmbH said. 

Horner is believed to have been supported during the investigation by his wife, Geri, a member of the Spice Girls pop group.

Given all-clear

His future as one of Formula One’s most successful team bosses had hung on the outcome of the internal investigation set up by the parent firm of energy drink company Red Bull.

Red Bull hired a London barrister to look into the allegations against Horner.

He was given the all-clear on Wednesday after the lawyer’s report was considered by the company’s directors.

In its statement, Red Bull GmbH said: “The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed.”

Other teams in the Formula One paddock are unhappy with the way the investigation into Horner was conducted.

McLaren team boss Zak Brown urged the sport’s governing body, the FIA, to enforce transparency.

Brown told Sky Sports: “I think from what I’ve seen, there continues to be a lot of rumours and speculation, questions. I think the sanctioning body (the FIA) has a responsibility and authority to our sport, to our fans. 

“I think all of us in Formula 1 are ambassadors for the sport on and off the track, like you see in other sports.

“I think they need to make sure that things have been fully transparent with them.”

Horner has been in charge of Red Bull since they entered Formula One 19 years ago.

During that time he has overseen seven drivers’ world championships and six constructors’ titles.

Red Bull dominated the 2023 season, winning 21 of the 22 races as Max Verstappen successfully defended his drivers’ crown.

The Dutch driver said on Wednesday that the Horner investigation “doesn’t affect me”.

“I’m very focused on the car and on myself.”

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