Sources: Christian Horner has ‘full support’ of Red Bull shareholders as axing rumours swirl

Thomas Maher
Christian Horner with a microphone.

Christian Horner spoke in front of the media on Thursday.

Following Red Bull’s 1-2 finish in Jeddah, rumour has swirled that Christian Horner could be axed by the company before the next round of the championship.

Reports in German media have suggested that Christian Horner could be released by Red Bull before the Australian Grand Prix, as the furore surrounding him and the team continues.

Christian Horner sack speculation emerges

With Christian Horner having had his investigation by Red Bull GmbH dismissed almost two weeks ago, the ongoing saga of the intra-team relationships at Red Bull has rumbled on ever since.

In Bahrain, Jos Verstappen – father of Max – called for Horner’s head after the Grand Prix, saying that the team is set to explode while the Englishman remains at the helm of Red Bull Racing.

Days later, the Red Bull Racing employee who aired their grievances about Horner to the team’s parent company in Austria was suspended – this followed their evidence being dismissed after failing to stand up to scrutiny, with the BBC reporting the suspension came on the grounds of the employee being dishonest in their testimony.

With Red Bull GmbH currently carrying out an internal investigation into the events of recent weeks, ie. the numerous media leaks of alleged information from the investigation – including an anonymous email containing unverified information that was sent to hundreds of senior F1 personnel and media – Red Bull GmbH employee and Red Bull Racing consultant Helmut Marko told Austria’s ORF that there is a theoretical possibility of him also being suspended before the next race.

This led to an escalation of tensions over the Saudi Arabian GP weekend, with Marko leaving the paddock on Thursday before arriving on Friday accompanied by CEO Oliver Mintzlaff – the businessman in charge of the Austrian interest in GmbH, who hold the 49 percent minority shareholding.

With meetings between the triumvirate of Red Bull GmbH powerholders Mintzlaff, Franz Watzlawick, and Chalerm Yoovidhya understood to have taken place in Dubai on Sunday, reports in German media have suggested that Yoovidhya’s position on Horner has changed.

Representing the Thai majority shareholders in GmbH, with 51 percent majority ownership, Yoovidhya posed alongside Horner in a public display of support on the grid ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

According to F1-Insider.com’s Ralf Bach and Motorsport-Total’s Christian Nimmervoll, the Thai shareholders are now in agreement with the Austrian side to separate from Horner and a key item on the agenda of the meeting is to discuss Horner’s future.

The reports suggest that Horner is “losing the power struggle” at Red Bull, and could be released before the next race in Australia.

However, well-placed sources have told PlanetF1.com that the suggestions Horner could be removed from his role as team principal are ‘nonsense’, ‘rumour-mongering’, and ‘idle gossip’.

A request for comment from Red Bull Racing resulted in a spokesperson telling PlanetF1.com that: “As Christian has said, he is grateful for the full support of the shareholders and that remains the case.”

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Christian Horner: Our focus remains on the track

Speaking to Sky F1 after the Saudi Arabian GP, in which Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez claimed another 1-2 finish, Horner spoke about the ongoing situation that has involved so many leading figures from within the racing team and the broader company.

“Obviously a lot is made of this stuff,” he said, denying that an ongoing battle for control is ongoing.

“But we are one team, and nobody is bigger than the team. This team comprises across the different entities of over 1400 people, and everybody has a role to play, and that’s from the very bottom to the very top and without them performing, you don’t achieve performances like this.

“Unfortunately, there’s been obviously a lot of speculation this weekend, but once again, our focus is very much on track.”

When pressed on Marko’s comments over the weekend that he may be at threat of a suspension from the company and Verstappen’s subsequent claim that a departure for Marko would not be good for his own future at Red Bull, Horner was again defiant.

“Well firstly, Helmut is a consultant to Red Bull GmbH [Red Bull Racing’s parent company] so whatever the discussion was, was between them and not with the team,” he explained.

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