Helmut Marko defends delay in completing Christian Horner investigation

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and Red Bull Racing Team Consultant Dr Helmut Marko look on in the garage during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 3, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain
Christian Horner (left) and Helmut Marko have been at the heart of Red Bull's Formula One operations for 20 years - Getty Images/Mark Thompson

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has defended the length of time it is taking to conclude the company’s investigation into team principal Christian Horner, although the Austrian stressed “the sooner a result is available the better” given the potential for “rumours and other stories” to fill the vacuum.

Horner has been accused by a female colleague of inappropriate behaviour, understood to be controlling and coercive in nature.

Red Bull’s parent company in Austria confirmed the probe two weeks ago, saying it was taking the matter “extremely seriously”. But despite an independent specialist barrister having conducted lengthy interviews with both parties, there remains no outcome in sight.

With teams now arriving in Bahrain ahead of this week’s pre-season test, and next week’s first race of the season, both Formula One and governing body the FIA have issued statements addressing the matter. F1’s statement called for clarity “at the earliest opportunity”.

Marko, 80, told Red Bull’s ServusTV channel it was right that the independent barrister appointed took their time to evaluate all the evidence in detail. But he conceded that the longer it took, the greater the potential for leaks and rumours.

“As you know, this is an internal investigation,” Marko said. “The sooner a result is available, the better because of course, rumours and other stories are bound to sprout due to the long duration.

“[But] I think Red Bull have reacted very well in this matter. The long duration of this investigation is not their fault. They are endeavouring to [have] a fair investigation and then react accordingly.”

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner stand with the RB20 during the Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 car launch at Red Bull Racing Factory on February 15, 2024 in Milton Keynes, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images for
Horner was at the launch for Red Bull's 2024 car - Red Bull Racing/Mark Thompson

In terms of timings, it is understood there is a will on all sides to reach a conclusion before the first race although there is no guarantee of that.

Initially there had been hopes the investigation might be concluded by the time Red Bull launched their 2024 challenger on Feb 14. But they swiftly dwindled with Horner having to face the world’s media at the team factory in Milton Keynes last week with the cloud of the probe still hanging over him.

He struck a defiant note, denying all the accusations and saying he had no intention of leaving the team he “built”.

Horner will have to face the media again at this week’s test in Bahrain. He is due to speak on Thursday afternoon in a session with McLaren chief executive Zak Brown, Laurent Mekies of Visa Cash App RB, Alessandro Alunni Bravi of Stake F1, and Bruno Famin of Alpine.

Red Bull drivers Sergio Pérez and Max Verstappen are being put up on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

Lewis Hamilton, whose move from Mercedes to Ferrari next year is sure to be a hot topic of discussion, will be in the same press conference as Verstappen.