In an unfolding drama that’s gripping the world of Formula 1, Stefano Domenicali, alongside Bernie Ecclestone, F1’s former supremo, are reportedly nudging Christian Horner towards considering a quiet exit from Red Bull. This push comes in the wake of Horner’s extensive eight-hour meeting last Friday with a Red Bull-appointed independent lawyer, tasked with delving into allegations of “inappropriate behaviour.”
The specifics of the allegations remain shrouded in mystery beyond concerns about his leadership style, with the Auto Bild correspondent Ralf Bach revealing, “What the allegations are specifically about is still not publicly known.” This ambiguity adds to the tension surrounding Horner’s future, especially as the investigation’s findings are yet to be disclosed, with the lawyer now off on vacation.
The gravity of the situation is underlined by close friend Ecclestone’s private counsel to Horner, suggesting a step down might be wise. Adding to this, Domenicali’s involvement indicates a broader concern within the sport’s hierarchy, with Liberty Media, the sport’s owners, reportedly exerting pressure on Red Bull for resolution. Bach’s report highlights the critical juncture at which Horner finds himself, stating, “The manner in which the alleged coercion was carried out is not compatible with modern moral standards,” casting doubt among F1 insiders about Horner’s ability to remain at the helm.
Despite the storm, Horner’s position seems bolstered by the energy drink company’s Thai co-owners. However, the Austrian contingent, led by Mark Mateschitz and including influential figures like Dr. Helmut Marko and even the Verstappen camp, appears less inclined to maintain the status quo, with Red Bull GmbH co-CEO Oliver Mintzlaff hinted as a potential successor.
This saga, set against the backdrop of Red Bull’s looming 2024 car launch and the anticipation of pre-season testing and the new season, has implications not just for Horner but for the leadership and direction of F1’s currently ultra-dominant team.