Red Bull’s investigation into an alleged case of “inappropriate behaviour” involving team boss Christian Horner and a female employee of the team is following a process that “could go on for a while” according to Sky Sports.
Horner is meeting today in central London with a legalm representatives leading an independent investigation at the behest of the Red Bull energy drink company to shed light on the allegations levied upon the F1 team principal.
At this stage, it is understood that the claims made by a female member of Red Bull Racing relate to an allegation of controlling behaviour, an accusation that Horner has vehemently denied.
On Friday, Sky Sports reporter Craig Slater disclosed the most recent details of the investigation, suggesting that the latter might unfold over an extended period.
“I have been guided away from expecting an outcome to this investigation today,” Slater told Sky Sports News.
“I think you’re right not to call it a hearing which is what it’s been mostly described as. I think this is more of a meeting and an interview by the investigators with Christian Horner which will be, as I understand it, in a central London location today rather than at the team’s headquarters in Milton Keynes. So I’m not expecting an outcome today.
“Clearly [it is] a very significant day. We know that Red Bull are taking this investigation very seriously. There’s an allegation of inappropriate behaviour by Christian Horner by a female member of staff and I understand that relates to controlling and potentially coercive behaviour.
“That’s what we’re looking at here in terms of what Christian Horner is being accused of.
“He has emphatically denied the allegations and is going to work to clear his name but this could be the first step, I’ve been led to understand, in a process which could go on for a while.”
Red Bull racing is scheduled to present its 2024 F1 contender next Wednesday, on February 15. Slater said that there was certainty that clarity on Horner’s situation would be offered by then.
“It’s the first interview with Christian Horner, there might be the potential for a second interview, I think he is prepared for that and is expecting it to be quite a long day,” he continued.
“As I understand that, I think we’re talking about a process which will start sometime mid-morning and will continue into the afternoon, the investigators have pledged to be very thorough with this.
“For those thinking that this could either be concluded today or possibly in advance of the Red Bull launch, which is the 15th of February next Thursday, well that isn’t a certainty.
“This is not going to operate as I understand it to a Formula 1 timetable, it will operate to a timetable appropriate to get a clear and fair solution for both parties.”
Since the story broke earlier this week, rumors have emerged that Horner’s case is the latest installment in a lingering power struggle that has been taking place behind the scenes between the Briton and Red Bull’s Austrian investors.
Slater however dismissed such speculation.
"If you go online you'll read a lot about this. I think it's wrong to consider it in these terms,” the Sky News reporter explained.
"The guidance I've had from Milton Keynes is that it's not a battle between Salzburg and Milton Keynes for control of this racing team.
"Remember this was an organisation founded by Dietrich Mateschitz, the billionaire part-owner of the drinks firm. He passed away a few months ago and since then Oliver Mintzlaff, the former Red Bull Leipzig executive, has been running the general sporting operation.
"But it has been explained to me like this, it would be old fashioned that an investigation like this would be governed by a power struggle going on elsewhere.
"You might read stories about Bernie Ecclestone potentially intervening on his friend Christian Horner’s behalf with the Thai majority owners of the Red Bull drinks firm - that's a kind of old fashioned view of the way F1 power politics used to unfold.
"There's a lot of talk of is Christian Horner as close to ace designer Adrian Newey as he used to be. Is there a little bit of a gap there and does that make Christian Horner more expendable?
"Again, while that might have some kind of ramification if Christian Horner does go, it should have no bearing whatsoever on this investigation as it unfolds.
"So let's see what happens today and if we get any more detail on how this is going to proceed.
"But my guidance is that this could well stretch past the launch of Red Bull's 20th racing car, which is next Thursday, and who knows, might it not even be concluded before pre-season testing begins."