MILTON KEYNES, United Kingdom — Christian Horner says he remains “absolutely committed” to the Red Bull Formula One team despite an ongoing investigation into reported accusations of controlling behavior made by an employee, which he has denied.
Red Bull Racing’s parent company, Red Bull GmbH, said earlier this month that it had launched an investigation into Horner after becoming aware of the allegations.
A hearing, led by an independent lawyer, took place in London on Friday, but no further action or results have 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 next season” and the team’s title defence.
“There have been some allegations made that I strongly deny,” Horner said. “I am complying with that process and will continue to do so until its conclusion.”
Although he declined to discuss details about the ongoing investigation, including a timeline for a resolution, Horner said that for him as Red Bull team principal it had been “business as usual,” going to the factory every day to help prepare for the new season.
Horner said he has not thought about backing down from his role. He added that he would be in Bahrain, where F1 pre-season testing will take place from February 21 to 23 and the opening race of the 2024 season on March 2.
“I’ve built this team,” Horner said. “I have convinced people to come here and work here. I enjoy working with the team, with the people. The greatest asset of this team is the people. And that remains the case.”
Horner has been in charge of Red Bull’s F1 operations since the energy drinks giant acquired the Jaguar team ahead of the 2005 season, making him the longest-serving team principal in the sport.
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 said the support from Red Bull shareholders had been “fantastic”, highlighting the commitment to the F1 team and its wider projects, including its future engine program with Ford and its advanced technologies division.
“We are a 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 represent any kind of distraction to its preparations.
“In times of uncertainty, this brings the team together, and I have never seen the team more united or more supportive than it is,” Horner said.
“Everyone is focused on one thing, which is the performance of that car, to go out and defend the two world titles that we have worked so hard for over the last few years.”
Verstappen, a three-time world champion, also denied that the investigation could overshadow preparations, saying morale was “fantastic” and everyone in the team was “very focused and motivated.” He also said that his interactions with Horner had been “normal.”
But the team informed the media that Verstappen and teammate Sergio Pérez could not answer questions about the ongoing process, with Verstappen saying: “No, because you will make up stories about it again and then there will be speculation.
“It’s better not to ask anything about it and wait for the process.”
The launch of the Red Bull car was held as a celebration of the team’s history, including appearances by key figures such as technical director Adrian Newey, technical director Pierre Wache and David Coulthard, who achieved Red Bull F1’s first podium in the Monaco Grand Prix 2006. Prize.
Coulthard drove the first Red Bull F1, the RB1, in a demonstration alongside Verstappen in the RB20 at Silverstone on Wednesday during a day of filming.
The event gave Verstappen the first opportunity to test the new Red Bull car, which features a number of modifications from last year’s model that won 21 of 22 races, becoming the most dominant car in F1 history.
Changes include a Mercedes-style engine cover and “shoulder” as well as modifications to the sidepod, an area where Red Bull set a design trend in the last two years. But the team has kept the car’s true floor design hidden, meaning the RB20 will only be fully revealed when pre-season testing begins in Bahrain next week.
“It’s better for sure,” Verstappen said of the new car. “I think we are happy with what we have done. Of course, we don’t know how much other people have improved, but we are happy.
“It’s not that we felt like we didn’t achieve our goal or anything like that. “I think we’re proud of what we’ve put into the car.”
(Photo: Giuseppe Cacace / AFP via Getty Images)