Mercedes cause ‘shock’ in Bahrain; Christian Horner statement issued – F1 news round-up

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell laps the Sakhir circuit in the Mercedes W15

George Russell drives the Mercedes W15.

The first day of track action in F1 2024 is in the books, though not all major talking points coming out of the Bahrain Grand Prix related to on-track matters.

While Mercedes shocked themselves, as well as the F1 paddock with their performance on Thursday, Red Bull could not keep full focus on what happened on the circuit, with team boss Christian Horner issuing a statement in regards to an email leak relating to the recently-concluded Red Bull investigation.

Let us then take a deeper look at the key headlines from Thursday at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Christian Horner’s statement after email leak

After Red Bull Racing team principal Horner was cleared of any wrongdoing via an internal Red Bull GmbH investigation, an email leak went public during the second hour of practice in Bahrain, alleging to contain evidence that was behind the investigation.

Horner has since issued a personal statement to the media, confirming that he will not comment on “anonymous speculation”, but reiterating his continued denial of the allegations.

Read more: Christian Horner issues statement after email leak of alleged evidence

Lewis Hamilton in ‘shock’ but fears Mercedes ‘nowhere near’ Red Bull

Few would have expected Mercedes to score a one-two result in Bahrain, but they did exactly that in FP2, Hamilton topping the timings two-tenths ahead of team-mate George Russell.

But, while that result came as a “shock”, Hamilton believes Mercedes are “nowhere near” Red Bull when it comes to race pace as he looked ahead to Mercedes’ chances for the remainder of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Read more: Lewis Hamilton delivers ‘nowhere near’ Red Bull warning after ‘shock’ Mercedes 1-2

Max Verstappen hints engine modes at play

Meanwhile, reigning three-time World Champion and F1 title favourite Verstappen managed only P6, half a second off the pace.

But, he is “not worried about the gap to P1”, as he hinted that some rivals had jumped the gun on Red Bull with turning their engines up.

Read more: Max Verstappen drops engine mode hint following surprise Bahrain practice

Toto Wolff’s transparency call over ‘basic’ Christian Horner investigation

The statement issued by Red Bull to clear Horner after their investigation into alleged inappropriate behaviour consisted of only 89 words, which for Mercedes team boss Wolff, was too “basic”.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com about the topic in Bahrain, Wolff called for more “transparency”.

Read more: Toto Wolff calls for more transparency after ‘basic’ Christian Horner investigation statement

Audi full Sauber takeover rumours emerge

Audi are busy preparing for their F1 2026 entry, but while it has long-been anticipated that this will be facilitated by part-ownership of Sauber Motorsport, could Audi instead be readying a full Sauber takeover attempt?

Sauber themselves are not confirming nor denying the rumours.

“We don’t comment on speculation and we don’t offer comments on the shareholder structure of the team,” a spokesperson told PlanetF1.com.

Read more: Audi takeover rumours swirl again ahead of incoming F1 2026 arrival