Red Bull investigation update as friend of Christian Horner complainant speaks out

Thomas Maher
Christian Horner, Red Bull, 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix...

The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Christian Horner investigation continues...

The employee at the heart of the Red Bull investigation into Christian Horner has been reported as feeling very “upset and lonely”.

Red Bull GmbH, the parent company of the F1 team, concluded their investigation into allegations regarding Christian Horner’s behaviour as team boss immediately prior to the F1 season beginning, with the investigation dismissed – but the matter continues in the background.

Red Bull employee “struggles to understand” dismissed investigation

The investigation into Horner was dismissed just before the season opener in Bahrain, following extensive questioning and checks carried out by an external barrister.

The situation evolved further in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia following an email leak of information, allegedly pertinent to the investigation, that was sent to the inboxes of the media, team boss, and senior F1 personnel.

The investigation ending also prompted Jos Verstappen – father of Max – to call for Horner to lose his job as head of the Red Bull team.

Horner, who has vehemently denied the claims from the outset, declined to comment on the authenticity of the material in the email leak but has the full support of the shareholders at Red Bull GmbH – both from the Austrian minority and the Thai majority.

Red Bull Racing suspended the employee in question, due to alleged dishonesty through statements made and the evidence presented, with internal investigations underway into this situation, and the source of media leaks throughout.

PlanetF1.com understands the suspended employee is facing intensive interviews this week, as part of this ongoing investigation by Red Bull into the matter.

While the employee in question has not spoken to the media, due to a legally binding confidentiality agreement, a close friend of the employee has spoken on the grounds of anonymity to the BBC.

According to the report from Andrew Benson, the complainant is “struggling to understand” how Red Bull could dismiss their complaint.

“It’s impossible for people to understand what it’s like for her,” the friend is reported as saying.

“She can’t talk and she won’t talk.

“But I can tell you what it is doing to her. Every time I have asked her something, she breaks down in tears and says she’s got no one to talk to because she’s not allowed to talk.

“She is very upset, very angry, very scared, very intimidated, very lonely. And I think it’s impossible for people to understand without being in her shoes what it’s like for her.”

A spokesperson for Red Bull told the BBC: “Both [parties] signed a confidentiality agreement on it so they both can’t discuss it.”

The friend also claims the leaked messages in the mass email, which contained alleged screenshots of WhatsApp messages, are genuine. Horner, when asked about the veracity of the contents, described it as “anonymous, speculative messages from an unknown source”, and declined further comment.

“We can all read the WhatsApps and anybody can come to their own conclusion about whether that was an appropriate relationship between a CEO and a PA,” the friend said.

“As Christian has said, he wants to draw a line under this. Well, if this has been a fair and independent process and there has been no wrongdoing found, then why isn’t that being brought forward in a transparent way and why isn’t Christian denying that those WhatsApps are real?

“I do feel like you had some people who feel it takes two to tango, but that’s unfair. That is trying to divert. The issue here is, should Christian have done what he did as a CEO?”

With Red Bull unable to comment further due to employment law confidentiality, the friend continued to say the employee is very upset over how the situation has played out.

“She struggles to understand how, given the information, an independent process can have come to the conclusions it has, and the actions that have followed,” they said.

“It’s shocking but not surprising how upset she is. There have been multiple financial offers [to sell her story], none of which she has had any interest in even engaging on.

“The fact she can’t talk to her friends is only allowed to talk to her direct family members… you have a single female who has followed the right process and feels like she is unheard and it has been a totally unjust process.

“It takes a pretty brave woman to do what she has done. And unfortunately, it is a very poor state of affairs.”

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“She has been threatened with legalese every step of the way”

The employee’s friend said the inability to talk openly about the situation with friends and family is not putting them off pursuing it through a tribunal.

“It is registered to go to an employment tribunal, which is public,” the friend said.

“As a friend, I can tell you I would assume that Horner, like he has done every step of the way, will do everything he can to make sure that the employee tribunal is not public.

“Unfortunately, the date is a long time away. She has been threatened with legalese every step of the way, as has the media.

“She has now been suspended and it’s clear that’s Red Bull following a process to eventually fire her.

“She is determined for the truth to come out. She just wants to work in the sport and is very concerned about her reputation and ability to get hired by anyone.

“She has been in motorsport her entire life, so on the one hand she is very concerned and scared for her future, on the other hand very determined for the truth to come out.

“Because she can’t talk to her friends openly, I think she has all this bottled-up fear and concern that she is not able to openly communicate with her friends and family to support her and give her advice, because she is being respectful of the terms and conditions that have been placed upon her.

“It’s pretty clear she has not been able to say a word or even identify herself and yet Christian is able to give enough commentary because he has got a position of power and influence to effectively give his side of the story and she has been completely muted.”

A Red Bull spokesperson said: “Christian has not made attempts to [make sure the employment tribunal is private]. And she has not been suspended with the intent of firing her.”

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