Formula 1

Christian Horner accuser to lodge appeal after changing lawyers

Christian Horner accuser to lodge appeal after changing lawyers

The season has begun very well for Red Bull on the track, but less smoothly off it – Getty Images /Bryn Lennon

The woman whose grievance case against Christian Horner was dismissed by Red Bull’s parent company is expected to lodge an appeal in the coming days, Telegraph Sport understands.

There was a delay while she switched legal representation, but it is understood that she intends to appeal the outcome of the internal investigation carried out by Red Bull GmbH into allegations of controlling behaviour.

Red Bull announced on February 28, on the eve of the 2024 season-opener in Bahrain, that the case against Horner had been dismissed following a weeks-long investigation carried out by an unnamed specialist external barrister.

Horner’s accuser has since been suspended by the company, with concerns around the accuracy of her evidence cited as the reason.

But that is far from the end of the matter. Not only does the woman involved intend to fight on, Red Bull GmbH remains under pressure to show more transparency with how it arrived at its decision.

There is also believed to be a second investigation ongoing into the regular leaks which have occurred over the past five weeks. First the investigation itself was leaked, then the nature of some of the allegations. Finally, the day after Horner was cleared, a huge tranche of screengrabs, mostly of WhatsApp messages purporting to be between Horner and his accuser, were leaked by anonymous email to journalists and paddock figures.

Whatever the results of this second investigation, the saga, which has been going on for more than two months, has exposed serious divisions at Red Bull, both the parent company and the race team.

Jos Verstappen, the father of Red Bull’s three-time world champion Max Verstappen, has already said he feels Horner should resign before the team “explodes”, and that he “sympathises” with the woman involved. Meanwhile, Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s long-standing motorsport advisor, has badly fallen out with Horner.

Horner (left) and Helmut Marko have put on a united front – Getty Images/Clive Rose

Marko, 80, revealed at last week’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix that he might resign or be suspended, leading to speculation his departure could trigger a clause in Max Verstappen’s contract allowing him to leave.

There are understood to be doubts about the legality of that clause. Telegraph Sport has been told Marko added it himself, as a director of the company, with no one from Red Bull Racing or Group being aware. Red Bull declined to comment when asked whether this was true.

But whether it is binding or not, Marko’s statement gave a strong indication of the way Verstappen was thinking. The 26-year-old indicated that Marko’s departure would be a big problem for him, warning that the Austrian’s presence was an “important part in my decision-making” and even going so far as to declare “Helmut has to stay”.

In the end, after “positive” talks in Jeddah with Red Bull GmbH chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff, Marko said he was staying at the team, with all parties stressing the importance of teamwork.

It is unclear how long the truce will last. Formula One heads to Melbourne next week for round three of the championship with plenty of questions unanswered.

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