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Verstappen: Nice for everyone when Horner investigation resolved

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen says it will be “nice for everyone” at Red Bull when an investigation into team principal Christian Horner for alleged inappropriate behaviour is resolved.

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 attended Red Bull’s car launch in the UK last week, at which he reiterated his denial, and is present in Bahrain for pre-season testing, which concludes on Friday ahead of next weekend’s season-opening Grand Prix at the same circuit.

Questions regarding the investigation into Horner were not allowed when Verstappen spoke to the media at the Milton Keynes launch, which meant Friday marked the first time the Dutchman had been publicly asked about the situation.

“I mean in terms of talking about that, it’s not that suddenly sat here, that I can speak about things,” Verstappen said.

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the ongoing investigation into his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner over alleged inappropriate behaviour is ‘an issue for all of Formula 1’.

“So it’s better that I just focus on my own performance because that’s already the day job.

“But I guess, of course, for everyone, it’s nice, of course, when things are resolved. But that’s the only thing that I can say about that.

“Everyone who is here, they’re all focusing on the performance of the car, as they should. Everyone knows their role and everyone is very focused on trying to make the whole package faster.”

Horner is F1’s longest serving team principal having been at the helm of Red Bull since they entered the sport in 2005 and has overseen the winning of six constructors’ and seven drivers’ titles, the last three of which have come in successive campaigns from Verstappen.

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McLaren team principal Zak Brown gives his views on the current investigation surrounding Christian Horner and inappropriate behaviour at Red Bull.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said on Wednesday that the Horner situation is “an issue for all of Formula 1, while Mercedes chief executive Zak Brown on Thursday called for a “swift ” and “transparent” conclusion to the investigation.

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.”

Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater reported on Thursday that the investigation may be coming to its “critical stage” and that an outcome next week, before the Bahrain GP, is “certainly possible”.

Verstappen: I trust the team on RB20 design

Verstappen made an impressive start to testing on Wednesday as Red Bull surprised the paddock by unveiling major changes to last year’s RB19, the most dominant car in the sport’s history.

The first look at the RB20 on track confirmed a change in the cooling inlets around the sidepod, with rumours swirling of a switch to a ‘zero-sidepod’ design for later in the season.

In an ominous start for the rest of the field, Verstappen topped Wednesday’s timesheet by more than a second.

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Verstappen gives his thoughts on how the RB20 has performed during testing.

“I think overall it was a very good first day,” he said before returning to the cockpit on Friday afternoon. “I couldn’t really wish for more, I was actually wishing for less laps.

“But no, I did a lot of laps, everything went well, the balance was very nice. We tried quite a few things on the car, also for me to understand moving forward, completed the whole programme without any problems, so for me that was really good.”

As for the design, of which some elements were reminiscent of the design of Mercedes’ underperforming 2022 and 2023 cars, Verstappen says he has full faith in the Red Bull thinktank led by chief technical officer Adrian Newey.

“I trust the team, to be honest, that they make the right decisions in terms of choosing the direction of the car,” Verstappen said.

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Verstappen makes the first overtake of the year in the RB20 by getting past Charles Leclerc in the opening session of testing from Bahrain.

“I saw of course, how it had already been drawn at the end of the of last year, but honestly, I don’t care how the car looks like as long as it’s fast. And also when I saw it for the first time fully built together, I was like, ‘whatever shape it has, right?’

“I go and sit in the car and once you drive out, you feel quite quickly if it feels quite normal or not.

“Unfortunately, our filming day was only wet, so you don’t really know anything. But as soon as I jumped in here, it felt pretty normal.

“It looks a bit different, but it’s the direction that the team chose, and I believe that that’s the best direction to go into if they say so. And from my side now, it’s all about just giving my feedback about balance of the car, what I think can be improved, but that’s anyway an ongoing process with the car.”

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