Formula 1’s Christian Horner Scandal Isn’t Going Away

The lack of transparency has left many observers frustrated

Christian Horner
Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner looks on, on the grid during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia.
Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Last month, Red Bull began an internal investigation of its Formula 1 team principal, Christian Horner. At month’s end, Red Bull announced the conclusion of its investigation — and “that the grievance has been dismissed,” as ESPN reported. The controversy hasn’t ended there, however; far from it. In the wake of Red Bull announcing the end of the investigation, reports surfaced that the company had subsequently suspended the woman who had filed the initial complaint against Horner.

More recently, the unnamed woman reportedly appealed the decision, according to Reuters. There’s also the matter of some leaked texts between Horner and the unnamed Red Bull employee, published by Page Six, which read like a guide to what not to send to a colleague when you are the principal of a Formula 1 team. (Horner reiterated that he “[has] always denied the allegations” when news of the leak first appeared.)

As Camilla Long wrote in an analysis of the situation for Air Mail, it’s a bad look for Horner, Red Bull and Formula 1 itself. “No matter how much, deep in its battered reptile brain, Formula One wants better PR — abolishing grid girls, setting up the F1 Academy for young female drivers — it remains a deeply toxic organization,” Long writes.

More searingly, Long points to the way that this appears to countless outside observers — to say nothing of women interested in working in Formula 1. “How does Red Bull think suspending a female whistleblower goes down with the general public, in an industry known, historically, for sidelining, mocking and objectifying women?” she asks.

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Long also zeroes in on the lack of transparency in virtually all aspects of this case. It’s worth pointing out that this has frustrated some of the parties tangentially involved in the past. Specifically, in late February, the Associated Press reported that Ford’s CEO was upset with the lack of transparency in the investigation.

Given Ford’s upcoming collaboration with Red Bull Racing, that frustration could have had implications for the relationship between the two companies. And if another one of Red Bull Racing’s partners raises more objections to the lack of transparency, it could go a long way towards clarifying matters.

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