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Christian Horner facing moment of truth over 'controlling behaviour' allegations

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13th February, 2024

With the news of unspecified and still unproven conduct by Oracle Red Bull Racing principal Christian Horner towards a staff member during the 2023 season, questions around his future with the team have been raised.

Since 2005, Horner has won 13 world titles, with the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen at his disposal while principal of Red Bull. His level of assertiveness, ruthlessness and a cutthroat approach to forming his two-man team often leaves an unfriendly impression on other principals and competitors, which only demonises him further in the context of the current “controlling behaviour” allegations.

Christian Horner ahead of the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on November 26, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Christian Horner ahead of the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on November 26, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On February 10, Horner was questioned in an eight-hour trial by an independent barrister employed by Oracle Red Bull Racing.

As of the time of writing, Horner remains team principal, but depending on the depth of the allegations and the barrister’s conclusions, things could change as quickly and ruthlessly as Horner changes his drivers.

Horner has categorically denied the claims, reportedly made by a female member of Red Bull Racing.

Despite some talk of his misconduct being sexual in nature, other sources have suggested that the allegations relate to the nature of his expectations and demands as team principal. Horner was allegedly described as “controlling” and said to often cause a “crisis for the team.”


Rumours of staff being unhappy with Horner first arose in 2022 when the Oracle Red Bull Racing co-founder passed away from pancreatic cancer, aged 78.

Dietrich Mateschitz was said to be a close ally and friend of Horner, overlooking and managing his arrival at the team in 2005. This raised suspicions that his involvement protected Horner, leaving anyone else with very little power to override him, including Red Bull director Helmut Marko.

The talk and whispers were downplayed as a “difference of opinion” by Red Bull media. Christian Horner’s wife, former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell will also be questioned by the independent barrister hired by the team. Sources in contact with her claim she completely denies the allegations, and has been in tears all weekend.

Oracle Red Bull Racing clearly want to settle the issue before the first race of the 2024 season in Bahrain. The last thing their drivers need is rumours that the man who employed them is set to leave. He has been advised to step down temporarily ahead of the first Grand Prix, but still remains as team principal at this moment in time.

With testing to be held in less than 10 days, Red Bull are keen to either disprove the allegations, or distract from them with victories. However, insiders close to the allegations have estimated that they did not expect anything to be overlooked, and would be surprised if Horner remained principal after the ordeal.

Horner is generally regarded as one of the most efficient and quality team principals in modern Formula 1, which begs the question of the validity of his supposed ‘controlling’ attitude.

If the authoritative nature of Horner has made him and his drivers so successful over the last 19 years, shouldn’t the claims merely be accepted as casualties, barring anything criminal within them?


The allegations could go deeper than expected when the public is finally let in on the secret, or they could be entirely false. No matter the situation, Christian Horner needs to handle it, as best he can, before the lights go out in Bahrain on March 3rd.

After all, Max Verstappen has another championship to win in the Red Bull garage.