Miguel A. HerguedasSpecial Envoy Sakhir

Special Envoy Sakhir

Updated Thursday, February 29, 2024-20:05

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In the middle of the afternoon, some anonymous messages filled Formula 1 in Bahrain with stupor.

The subject of those emails, sent to a hundred recipients - senior FIA officials, team directors, accredited journalists... - read as follows: "As a result of the recent investigation into Red Bull, you will be interested in seeing the attached material".

These documents contained the link to a Google Drive file and showed alleged conversations between

Christian Horner

and the Red Bull employee who accuses him of alleged sexual abuse.

So murky became the situation that Horner, after avoiding the press in the morning, had to issue a statement.

"I will not comment on anonymous speculation, but I reiterate that I have always denied the accusations," stressed the

Red Bull

main team .

The aforementioned WhatsApp conversations and photographs had also reached

Jos Verstappen

, the father of the three-time world champion.



of the best team in the World Cup became, in a matter of minutes, a hive.

In the absence of confirming the veracity of the documents, the truth is that Horner finds himself more cornered every day.

The internal investigation that exonerated him now seems to be of little use.

Because on Wednesday, when Red Bull wanted to shed light on the matter, it did not even release a detail about the accusations or the evidence presented by the victim.

Horner was expected impatiently first thing in the morning, but he did not show up for the appointment.

Besieged by media pressure, he wanted to limit himself to his work on the wall during the double training session, leaving the press in the lurch, which only demanded answers.

Or better, some detailed explanation of his alleged sexual abuse against a subordinate.

Horner's void was filled by

Toto Wolff

, his great rival at Mercedes, very categorical when denouncing that F1 "needs more transparency" in situations like this.

"You can't look behind the scenes"

The scandal that has infected the paddock in recent weeks allowed Wolff to leave at ease.

In the company of

Zak Brown


Fred Vasseur


Laurent Mekies

, his counterparts at McLaren, Ferrari and Visa Cash App RB, the Austrian settled in the seat to better aim his shot.

"My personal opinion is that you can't really look behind the scenes," launched the

main team

of the Silver Arrows.

He was referring, of course, to the way in which Red Bull had closed the matter.

In the opinion of the energy drink giant, its proceedings against Horner were "fair, rigorous and impartial."

And when handling "private information of the parties and third parties" he will remain silent "out of respect for all those involved."

She included

Geri Halliwell

, Horner's wife and former member of the Spice Girls.

Not to mention other public figures with an even more decisive influence.

Because the stain on Horner threatens to spread across Red Bull's carpets, the scene of numerous internal battles.

Everything was precipitated with the death of

Dietrich Mateschitz

at the end of 2022. Even without executive responsibility, the founder of the brand served as a recognized figure of consensus.

In other words, a mediator between the British division, commanded by Horner from the Formula 1 factory in Milton Keynes, and the branch directed by

Oliver Mintzlaff

, focused on the rest of the business areas.

Strategic alliance

Horner's overwhelming success, with six constructors' titles in F1 plus another seven drivers' titles for

Sebastian Vettel


Max Verstappen

, would have caused misgivings in the Austrian faction.

Not only because of his almost complete power in Red Bull Racing, but also because of the skills acquired in Powertrains, the engine brand with which he also wanted to take on Mercedes and Ferrari.

Without forgetting his adventure in the manufacture of street cars, with the RB17, designed by

Adrian Newey

as a figurehead.

This week, one of the most critical voices of Horner has been that of

Jim Farley

, CEO of Ford, who has complained publicly through a letter.

Farley appears to be an essential piece, given that he will lead the supply of engines to Red Bull starting in 2026. Therefore, this scandal compromises a strategic alliance for the team that tyrannically dominated the last three championships.

Verstappen, in the Red Bull garage in Bahrain.EFE

After two decades under the spotlight of the Great Circus, Horner knows very well how to handle himself in such a delicate situation.

And he is going to do everything possible to discover where the most shocking leaks come from.

Since the newspaper

De Telegraaf

uncovered the case, Red Bull has tried to offer an image of normality.

As every year, the

main team

took the lead during the presentation of the RB20 and during the FIA ​​press conference prior to the tests.

In addition, the fabulous on-track performance of Newey's latest genius helped lighten the atmosphere.

It should also be emphasized that Horner was not removed from his position at any time.

After denying the accusations, he reiterated that inside the garage his work continues "as always."

If this "distraction", as he himself has defined it, is definitively closed, the horizon will clear for Verstappen.

But if the victim exercises his right and appeals the decision, Red Bull could face more dangers than Ferrari or Mercedes have presented on the track.