Christian Horner cleared after investigation into behaviour at Red Bull

<span>Christian Horner was investigated over an allegation of inappropriate controlling behaviour.</span><span>Photograph: Andrej Isaković/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Christian Horner was investigated over an allegation of inappropriate controlling behaviour.Photograph: Andrej Isaković/AFP/Getty Images

The Red Bull team principal, ­Christian Horner, has been exonerated of any wrongdoing by an independent investigation into allegations of ­inappropriate controlling behaviour made against him by a female ­member of staff.

Horner had repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and insisted he would robustly defend himself. On Wednesday Red Bull Racing’s parent company, Red Bull GmbH, issued a statement having assessed the findings of the investigation that entirely cleared the 50-year-old.

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“The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete, and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed,” it read. “The complainant has a right of appeal. Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.

“The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned. Red Bull will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards.”

Horner has yet to make any comment but is expected to arrive at the Bahrain International circuit on Thursday.

The decision means Horner, who has been at the helm of the team since its inception in 2005, will oversee operations in Bahrain as Red Bull prepare for the opening race of the season on Saturday after almost four weeks of uncertainty.

The company made no comment on whether Horner would remain in his role but without a case to answer he is expected to continue in his positions as both team principal and CEO of Red Bull Racing, as he had made clear was his intention while the inquiry was ongoing.

“I am absolutely committed to this team, I have been here since the beginning, I have built this team,” he said at the launch of this year’s car two weeks ago.

“There have been highs and lows along the way, 113 race wins, we have won seven drivers’ world championships, six constructors’ world championships in 19 seasons. That’s in the history books now but it’s what lies ahead that’s important. My focus is on the future.”

Neither Red Bull Racing nor the parent company released any details of the nature of the allegations and the progress of the investigation, fuelling conjecture and rumour throughout which Horner maintained he was entirely innocent.

Horner was not suspended from his role while the investigation took place and continued with the day-to-day running of the team as it prepared for the new season.

There were intimations from Horner’s supporters that he had been the victim of a power struggle at Red Bull, describing the way the issue had been handled as an effort to “clip his wings” after the death of his supporter and friend Dietrich ­Mateschitz, the former Red Bull owner who had brought him in to run the team when it was formed.

He was however reportedly supported by Chalerm Yoovidhya, the son of the company’s founder Chaleo, who owns a 51% share of the company.

Red Bull made it clear that there was no timescale on the investigation and that it would continue for as long as it took to reach its ­conclusions but there was increasing pressure to resolve it. F1’s owners had called for a swift conclusion to the investigation as it reflected poorly on the sport while Ford, who are set to an engine partnership with Red Bull in 2026, also expressed displeasure at the allegations remaining unresolved.

Horner was understood to have been blindsided when Red Bull GmbH announced on 1 February it was launching an investigation. The statement at the time said: “The company takes these matters extremely ­seriously and the investigation will be completed as soon as practically ­possible.”

The complainant has not been identified however nor has any detail of the complaint, except it is understood to have alleged Horner had used “controlling” behaviour.

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Horner, who was at an F1 commission meeting when the original statement was released, immediately denied any wrongdoing to attendees and reiterated this to the Dutch media organisation De Telegraaf, saying: “I completely deny these claims,” as the investigation continued during the buildup to the new season.

Nonetheless, the Red Bull chief’s future had hung in the balance during the investigation and he defended himself at length in a meeting with the still unnamed English barrister leading the inquiry in central London on 9 February which is understood to have lasted eight hours, after which, as had been expected, no decision was immediately announced.

“It would not be appropriate to comment before the investigation is completed,” said Red Bull Racing in a statement after the meeting.

At the launch of the new car Horner had reiterated his denials of any wrongdoing. “I am confident in the process, I am working with the process,” he said. “I deny absolutely any allegations that have been made against me.”

With the parent company having decided he has no case to answer after reviewing the findings of the investigation, Horner will be front and centre in Bahrain as Red Bull attempt to defend their dual titles in the constructors’ and drivers’ championships after two years of dominance.