F1 teams accused of ‘stoking the flames’ with Christian Horner transparency calls

Thomas Maher
Christian Horner in the paddock at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Calls for transparency into Red Bull's investigation of Christian Horner are being made to 'stoke the flames', claims David Coulthard.

David Coulthard believes calls for transparency into Red Bull GmbH’s investigation into Christian Horner are being used to “stoke the fire”.

The investigation by Red Bull GmbH into Christian Horner’s behaviour as the Red Bull Racing F1 team boss came to an end two weeks ago, with the parent company dismissing the grievance lodged with them by an employee of the racing team.

Calls for transparency made by Toto Wolff and Zak Brown

In the immediate aftermath of the investigation ending, rival team bosses Toto Wolff and Zak Brown were asked in a press conference in Bahrain for their thoughts on the investigation and how Red Bull GmbH had handled the situation.

With GmbH not releaasing any details into the findings of their internal investigation into Horner, Wolff said F1 as a sport needs more transparency on what the details are.

“My personal opinion is we can’t really look at the behind the curtain,” he told media including PlanetF1.com. “At the end of the day there is a lady in an organisation that has spoken to HR and said there is an issue and it was investigated and yesterday the sport has received a message ‘it’s all fine. We’ve looked at it.’

“I believe that with the sport as a global sport, on such critical topics, it needs more transparency and I wonder what the sport’s position is? We are competitors, we are a team and we can have our own personal opinions or not.

“But it’s more like a general reaction or action that we as a sport need. We need to assess what is right in that situation, what is wrong.”

Brown echoed Wolff’s thoughts, saying: “I just think it’s important that it’s handled in a transparent way in which there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s been handled appropriately. And, whatever the conclusion is, that conclusion is handled in an appropriate, transparent, manner.”

Neither F1 nor the FIA has seen any reason to investigate the Red Bull GmbH investigation findings in any more detail.

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 team principals: How long has each team boss been in charge?

Six silly F1 2024 predictions we wish we could change already

David Coulthard: We all have a right to privacy

Former Red Bull Racing F1 driver turned broadcaster David Coulthard spoke to Channel 4 about the calls for transparency, saying that he believes it’s a tactic being used in a bid to “stoke the fire” surrounding Red Bull.

“I think that there’s obviously a call from those who want to continue to stoke the fire,” Coulthard said – the Scottish driver remains an ambassador for the Red Bull brand.

“And there’ll be maybe those who are just looking for the good of the fan base to ask for a bit more transparency, but it’s a private matter.

“I think that we all have a right to privacy. If there was a case to answer, we would know about it. It’s been dealt with by an independent group, though that will not satisfy those who want more, who want to dig deeper.”

Coulthard pointed to a recent example of how transparency was not offered on a matter that was dealt with by the FIA, referring to the infamous deal struck between Ferrari and the governing body after the 2019 season.

“But I think, actually, if you start looking up and down the pitlane before Formula 1 wasn’t quite so popular, there’s been a number of situations where there hasn’t been transparency,” he said.

“You know, Ferrari came to an agreement with the FIA regarding something to do with their fuel flow on their engine [in 2019].

“We’re still not the wiser as to what that agreement was, but it did seem to coincide with them suddenly losing their winning ways.

“There’s a big history in sport, cycling with drug taking and all the rest – where there’s money in sport, there’s politics.

“This is an unfortunate and unsavoury set of circumstances but it does seem to have been handled in a way that has brought a conclusion.

“If there is more factual evidence on the situation we would be the first to share it with our audience!”

Coulthard also said that, despite the distractions for Red Bull Racing, the team itself has handled the pressure well so far – Red Bull delivering two consecutive 1-2 finishes to kick off the year.

“The sport has never been bigger. But of course, when something is so big, it means there’s a lot of money, a lot of politics and therefore a lot of controversy,” he said.

“I see business as normal within the race team. Of course, it’s not business as normal when it comes to Christian having to go into press conferences and handle the sort of scrutiny that he has been under.

“But in terms of how the team go about their operation of Max and Checo [Perez] get in the car, then of course, they cannot be affected by that. But when the drivers are in the racecar, you know as a racing driver, when the visor goes down, there’s nothing else on your mind other than driving quickly.”

Read Next: Red Bull warned they are ‘treading on thin ice’ with Max Verstappen in ‘power struggle’