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Brown: Horner investigation ‘headlines F1 doesn’t want or need’

McLaren chief executive Zak Brown has called for a “swift” and “transparent” conclusion to Red Bull’s ongoing investigation into Christian Horner over alleged inappropriate behaviour.

Brown, speaking in a press conference at Bahrain testing which also featured Horner, said: “They need to handle it swiftly because I don’t believe these are the type of headlines that Formula 1 wants or needs at this time.”

Earlier in February, Horner was placed under investigation by the F1 team’s Austrian parent company Red Bull GmbH following an allegation of inappropriate behaviour being made against him by a female colleague.

The 50-year-old, who denies the allegations, attended an interview on February 9 with the external specialist barrister carrying out the investigation. No resolution on the matter was reached during the interview.

Horner then on February 15 attended Red Bull’s 2024 car launch, at which he addressed the media for the first time since the allegations became public, and reiterated his denial.

Horner is present in Bahrain for pre-season testing and on Thursday appeared in his first official F1 press conference since the investigation was launched. He appeared alongside four other team representatives, including McLaren CEO Brown who was asked about the matter.

“Well, the allegations are extremely serious,” said Brown.

“McLaren holds themselves and all the men and women at McLaren to the highest standards. Obviously, diversity and equality and inclusion are extremely important to us, our partners, to everyone in Formula 1.

“Red Bull corporation it appears has launched an investigation and all we hope and assume is that will be handled in a very transparent way.

“As FIA and Formula 1 has said, they need to handle it swiftly because I don’t believe these are the type of headlines that Formula 1 wants or needs at this time. I just think it’s important that it’s handled in a transparent way in which there is no doubt and no doubt whatsoever that it has been handled appropriately and whatever the conclusion is that that conclusion is handled in an appropriate, transparent manner.”

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Following an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour, Horner defended his position at Red Bull by saying ‘it’s business as usual’

Appearing in front of the media for the first time since answering questions related to the matter at Red Bull’s car launch event last Thursday, Horner was asked two questions on the investigation in the same press conference as Brown but said he was unable to comment.

“As you are well aware, there is a process going on which I form part of and as I form part of that process, I’m afraid I cannot comment on it,” Horner said.

He gave a similar response to a later second different question, although did reiterate his position from the launch that he hoped that a conclusion on the investigation would be reached “as soon as possible”.

“I’m dreadfully sorry but I really can’t comment on the process or the timescale,” he said. “I think obviously everybody would like a conclusion as soon as possible but I’m really not at liberty to comment about the process.”

‘Investigation may be coming to its critical stage’

Sky Sports News reporter Craig Slater in Bahrain:

“Christian Horner is saying much less today than he did at the launch and my understanding is it reflects that the investigation may be coming to its critical stage, towards the end.

“Maybe the final interviews are being conducted today and an outcome certainly possible by early next week. I don’t believe it will come this week, but I think early next week there’s every possibility that we should get some resolution in this business.

“Now Zak Brown there repeated exactly what Toto Wolff said yesterday, calling for a swift resolution to this and that the investigation should be transparent. Now I don’t believe Red Bull think that it is helpful at all to this process, that some kind of timescale should be set upon it or that indeed it should be public knowledge, when they are very sensitive matters in question. Not only that, it needs to be a thorough investigation in this instance.

“I think they think it should be separated from any type of timescale, a Formula 1 timescale that is, whether it takes the end of pre-season testing or even into the first races of the season to sort this out, paramount to Red Bull as far as they are concerned is that it is done correctly and fairly and the right outcome is arrived at.

Wolff: An issue for all of Formula 1

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff spoke about the ongoing investigation into his Red Bull counterpart Horner

Brown’s remarks came a day after Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff gave a similar assessment on the Horner investigation in Wednesday’s press conference in Bahrain.

“I think it’s clear. Formula 1 and what the teams do, we stand for inclusion, equality, fairness, diversity and that’s not only talking about it but living it day-in, day-out,” said Wolff.

“And I think these are the standards we’re setting ourselves. We are a global sport, one of the most important sports platforms in the world, and we are role models.

“But having said that, there is a lot of speculation that’s been happening over the last weeks, speculation that we have heard of, and lots of things that are going on.

“Because we want to talk about racing cars and we want to talk about the sport rather than these kind of very critical topics, that are more [than] just a team’s issue, it’s a phenomenon or it’s an issue for all of Formula 1 and in general for every individual that works out there.”

Wolff’s remarks came days after Formula 1 released a statement calling on Red Bull to provide clarity on the situation “at the earliest opportunity”.

“We have noted Red Bull has instigated an independent investigation into internal allegations at Red Bull Racing,” the statement said. “We hope matter will be clarified at earliest opportunity, after a fair and thorough process. Will not comment further at this time.”

Sky Sports F1’s pre-season testing schedule

Thursday February 22 – Day Two

  • 6.50am-11.05am: Morning Session
  • 11.55am-4.05pm: Afternoon Session
  • 8pm: Testing Wrap
  • 8.30pm: Ted’s Testing Notebook

Friday February 23 – Day Three

  • 6.50am-11.05am: Morning Session
  • 11.55am-4.05pm: Afternoon Session
  • 8pm: Testing Wrap
  • 8.30pm: Ted’s Testing Notebook
  • 9pm: Development Corner

When is the first F1 race?

Just one week after testing, the opening race of the 2024 season will begin with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29 to March 2.

Due to the Muslim holy period of Ramadan, the Bahrain and, seven days later, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, will be held on a Saturday.

This means practice one and two will take place on Thursdays, with final practice and qualifying on Fridays.

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