Red Bull rivals pile pressure on Christian Horner as investigation casts cloud over F1 testing

Christian Horner - ‘Has Dad been good this year?’: Horner silent as Drive to Survive clip leaves chief red-faced
Christian Horner, who has led Red Bull since 2005, has denied the allegations - Getty Images/Kym Illman

Christian Horner declined to comment on Thursday when asked about the ongoing investigation into his alleged inappropriate behaviour. But rival team principals continued to pile on the pressure.

McLaren’s Zak Brown followed the lead of Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, describing the allegations as “extremely serious” and calling for “transparency” in the handling of the investigation.

Brown added that there needed to be a swift resolution, saying: “These aren’t the headlines F1 needs.”

Horner would certainly agree with that a week after denying all the claims made against him, saying he was “confident” he would clear his name and had no intention of going anywhere.

The investigation launched by Red Bull’s parent company in Austria has now been going on over three weeks, casting a huge cloud over the champions’ pre-season preparations. The release on Friday of Netflix’s latest series of Drive to Survive is unfortunate timing for one of the biggest stars of the show, with one scene early in the series likely to become an instant meme as the Horner family receives a surprise visit from Father Christmas, who asks his children: “Can I ask, has Dad been good this year?”

Red Bull’s parent company says it is taking the allegations against Horner “extremely seriously”. It has appointed an independent specialist barrister to handle the investigation, with an outcome now widely expected before the first race of the season next week.

Brown said he hoped that would be the case, adding that the investigation needed to be handled “in a very transparent way”.

“As FIA and F1 have said, they need to handle it swiftly, because I don’t believe these are the kinds of headlines F1 wants or needs at this time,” the American said. “It is important it is handled in a transparent way, in which there is no doubt whatsoever that it’s been handled appropriately. And whatever the conclusion is, that it is handled in an appropriate and transparent manner.”

Horner, for his part, said: “There is a process underway and since I am part of it, I cannot comment on it. We hope there is a resolution as soon as possible.”

Max Verstappen, when asked whether other teams were using the controversy as an opportunity to destabilise Red Bull, said: “That is a tactic that is continuously used in Formula One. This is typical Formula One. We would do this, too. You always try to get your own advantage, absolutely. It makes a lot of sense.”

Earlier, Brown had repeated calls for Red Bull to give up ownership of one of its two Formula One teams, saying it was unfair that they were allowed to own both Red Bull Racing and Visa Cash App RB.