Amidst the whirlwind of Formula 1’s ‘silly season’, the spotlight intensifies on Red Bull Racing with Christian Horner at the epicenter of controversy. This Friday, an independent legal expert, commissioned by Red Bull’s Austrian hierarchy, is set to arrive in Milton-Keynes for a critical meeting that could determine Horner’s fate within the team, amidst allegations of inappropriate behavior with a female staff member.
James Vowles, the team principal at Williams, who is known to be close to Horner’s rival Toto Wolff, reflected on the broader implications of this situation for Formula 1. “Wind back 20 years ago – the sport was male-dominated without question. White, more than likely male, more than likely 40 years old,” he observed during a Bloomberg TV interview. “That’s changing, and it’s only a positive. But these allegations? I don’t know what happened.”
Dr. Helmut Marko, often seen at odds with Horner, has remained unusually quiet amidst the scandal. When pressed for a comment by Christian Nimmervoll of motorsport-total.com, Marko simply acknowledged Horner’s long-term contributions: “Horner has done a great job over the years.”
Bernie Ecclestone, a close confidant of Horner, is rumored to be advising him behind the scenes, as reported by Sport1. Despite the growing pressure, Horner is not considering resignation.
Rumblings of a rift between Horner and Jos Verstappen, Max’s father, suggest additional layers of complexity, with the Verstappen camp reportedly leaning more towards Marko and the Austrian side of the team’s management. Furthermore, speculation about Horner’s relationship with Adrian Newey intensifies, as social media activity from Newey’s wife Amanda hinted at dissatisfaction, liking a post on X that suggested Newey could find new opportunities away from Horner’s shadow.
Despite the internal turmoil, Horner may still enjoy the backing of Red Bull’s Thai owners, who hold a 51 percent stake in the energy drink company. Dutch journalist Erik van Haren, speaking on the DRS De Race Show podcast, noted, “I have the feeling that the Austrian side really wants to get rid of Horner, especially with this issue. I think the Thai owner is still on Horner’s side at the moment. Ultimately, he has the most important voice.”
Jonathan Wheatley, a long-serving team manager at Red Bull Racing, is among the names being touted as a possible successor should Horner be ousted. However, a new contender has emerged in Oliver Mintzlaff, who, following Dietrich Mateschitz’s death in late 2022, has been integral to Red Bull’s operations alongside Mark Mateschitz.
Horner, for his part, has vehemently denied the allegations, describing them as “nuts” in comments to the Daily Mail, as Red Bull Racing braces for a meeting that could pivot the future direction of the team.