Christian Horner investigation: New chapter, new sense of purpose for Red Bull boss in Bahrain

Sam Cooper
Christian Horner on the pit wall

Christian Horner has been cleared of all charges by Red Bull

What a difference a day makes. This time 24 hours ago Christian Horner’s future was different depending on who you asked.

Some had him dead to rights, heading for an unceremonious exit from the team while others had him as just barely surviving.

The reality was that neither were correct. In the end, Horner was exonerated of all charges. A month-long trial over and a chance to focus on the racing a day before cars would get back on track.

The story of Horner’s investigation has been ferocious from the start. Horner was a man at the top of the game, a seemingly untouchable figure whose ability to control the narrative and find the right words was unmatched in the paddock. He was the longest-serving team principal, one of the faces of the sport and at 50 years of age, looked as if he was going to be around for some time yet.

The investigation was the first time Horner seemed out of control, the all-conquering team principal was in the hands of an external party. It would have been an uncomfortable time for him. A nine-hour grilling by an external lawyer was the peak of what must have felt like weeks with a target on his back.

For some, Horner was guilty the moment the investigation became public.

In a story as big as this, there are always a number of players. The Dutch newspaper De Telegraf led the charge, claiming to have seen sexually explicit messages from Horner to a female colleague, a claim that now raises questions over its validity.

The reported allies on Horner’s side ranged from the understandable to the absurd and talk of the Red Bull house of cards falling down was never too far from the headlines.

Uncharacteristically, Horner looked as if he lost the confident stride in his step but, surprisingly and to the distaste of some, he continued to function in his role. He was in the factory ahead of the launch, at Silverstone for the shakedown and in front of the media for the RB20’s unveiling.

Horner did speak to the media but seemed more reserved than his usual bombastic self and again when he was in front of the microphone in Bahrain, it was not the same person that has become the marmite figure of the paddock.

Even a few hours before the verdict was public, a question was put to the likes of Max Verstappen on whether it was appropriate Horner was even allowed in the F1 paddock. recommends

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That will now all be moved into the past and the cloud that has hung over F1 for weeks has finally been cleared.

The investigation into Horner appeared to possibly be the kryptonite to Red Bull’s winning machine, the exhaust port on their Death Star. The opposite will now most likely be the case.

Horner in particular will surely now attack the new season with a renewed sense of vigour. This is his 20th campaign in charge of Red Bull but having come close to being removed, he will feel more determined to reaffirm Red Bull’s stranglehold on the title.

The investigation is also undoubtedly a chance for lessons to be learned. Other senior F1 figures spoke of the need to reflect regardless of the outcome and while their concerns regarding equality are still just as valid, there is also the chance to reflect on the guilty without trial view some took in this regard.

Horner is undoubtedly a divisive figure and one that can rub people up the wrong way but regardless of what you think of him, you should allow him a fair investigation before condemning him for actions he may not have even committed.

The true nature of the investigation will most likely never be released to the public but there are lessons to be learned on how to respond to someone in the public eye being placed under the microscope.

But finally, after possibly the craziest off-season in F1 history, the sport itself returns. Cars hit the track today before the race on Saturday and for Horner, it is a chance to move on from what came before.

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