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Bahrain victory gives Red Bull team boss Horner a much-needed boost

Red Bull's Bahrain win gives struggling team boss Horner a much-needed boost.
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Bahrain victory gives Red Bull team boss Horner a much-needed boost Red Bull’s Bahrain win gives struggling team boss Horner a much-needed boost.

Christian Horner, the team principal of the Red Bull Formula One team, received some relief yesterday as his team secured a commanding win at the opening race of the season in Bahrain, following a tumultuous week filled with chaos and tension.

He managed the race from the pit wall while his wife, Geri, the ex-member of the Spice Girls, was present to show her support. This must have brought some joy to him, as he is currently fighting for his job, his image, and possibly even his marriage.

Despite dominating once again and securing a crushing victory from reigning world champion Max Verstappen, the focus continues to be on Horner at Red Bull.

For two decades, he has held the role of team principal at Red Bull and is recognized as a highly accomplished leader in the contemporary sport. However, he has recently come under scrutiny for allegations of misconduct brought forward by a female staff member. This attention has escalated since an email, purportedly showing correspondence between him and the accusing employee, was leaked to various media outlets within Formula One. Although the authenticity of the email has not been verified, its release has had a significant impact.

Due to this, F1 has gained a significant following beyond just the sports section. Horner, a prominent figure in the world of motor racing, relishes the political dramas and rivalries that occur among team leaders and media coverage. However, this particular conflict was unique – though his advocates claim it is linked to internal power struggles within Red Bull.

The leaked email was released as Geri Halliwell-Horner arrived in Bahrain on Thursday night. It quickly spread on social media, causing her to feel upset and embarrassed.

Yet, Halliwell-Horner arrived for the race Saturday hand-in-hand with her husband in a show of solidarity. She has backed Horner throughout – although she did not go to the grid before the race, as she has many times in the past, instead remaining in the team’s hospitality sector. However, Horner was notably joined in a very public show of support by Chalerm Yoovidhya, the Thai son of Red Bull’s founder, Chaleo, who owns a 51% share of the company and is understood still to be backing Horner.

Horner expressed his feelings after the race, acknowledging that the situation has been uncomfortable due to the unwanted attention. He declined to comment on any potential motives behind the incident, instead shifting his focus to his team, family, and competitive racing. He emphasized the support of his spouse, team, and everyone involved, and stated his determination to continue striving for victories and giving his best effort.

The entire team understood the importance of letting our performance on the track speak for itself. The main focus is now on perfecting the cars.

How Halliwell-Horner ultimately reacts has yet to be seen, and the process is far from over. It began on 5 February when Red Bull Racing’s parent company, the energy drink manufacturer Red Bull GmbH, based in Austria, announced it had begun an investigation into Horner for alleged inappropriate behaviour, but did not cite details other than it was understood to be “controlling” in nature.

Max Verstappen leads Charles Leclerc of Monaco during the Grand Prix of BahrainView image in fullscreen

The woman who filed the complaint and the British lawyer in charge of the investigation were not identified. Horner was interviewed by the London barrister for over eight hours. Multiple employees were involved in the investigation, which culminated in a 600-page report.

During the ongoing process, Red Bull declined to make a statement. Initially, Horner had refuted any allegations of misconduct. However, at the unveiling of the team’s new vehicle on February 15th, he appeared fatigued.

When it was evident that an announcement would be made on Wednesday in Bahrain, the mood in the paddock was tense. Horner may have thought that progress had been made when Red Bull GmbH announced the dismissal of the complaint, but no details about the inquiry, its results, or its resolutions were disclosed. The statement from Red Bull essentially conveyed, “The decision has been made, let’s move on.”

The leaders of other teams requested openness – as did the FIA and F1 Management, along with the media. Social media alleged that there was a concealment. Horner and Red Bull, who had previously chosen not to speak about the proceedings, stated they were unable to comment due to confidentiality reasons.

It was a humiliating and unsightly situation for an individual who, up until now, had a noteworthy career. Recognizing early on that he did not possess the necessary skills to become a top driver, Horner dedicated himself to managing teams and founded Arden, which participated in F3000 races. He quickly established himself and caught the attention of Dietrich Mateschitz, the Austrian entrepreneur who cofounded Red Bull energy drink. When Mateschitz acquired an F1 team to launch Red Bull Racing, he appointed Horner as the team’s principal for its inaugural season in 2005.

At the time, he was the youngest leader of a team in the racing grid. Currently, he holds the record for the longest tenure. What came next was remarkable in the world of Formula 1. He achieved four consecutive championships with Sebastian Vettel between 2010 and 2013, solidifying the team’s position among the top three in F1 alongside Ferrari and Mercedes. In addition, Verstappen has won three more drivers’ titles and the team has earned a total of six constructors’ championships.

Source: theguardian.com