Formula 1 yesterday made headlines through the now-famous Christian Horner case. The Red Bull boss was accompanied in London by his legal team and the KC (King’s Counsel), an independent appointed by Red Bull Sport HQ (Headquarters) to investigate serious charges against the team principal of the reigning world champion.
According to the official statutory guidance framework of the UK Home Office, coercive or controlling behavior is an “intentional pattern of conduct” in which the perpetrators “use various means to harm, humiliate, intimidate, exploit, isolate, and dominate their victims.”
There are many different behaviors that fall under this conduct, including violence/physical and sexual abuse, violent behavior, emotional or psychological abuse, controlling behaviors, restrictive behaviors, and threatening behaviors. Any sanction for Christian Horner could not be issued by the human resources office in Milton Keynes, as the British former racing driver is a C-Suite manager.
C-Level represents the highest level of managerial responsibility and collectively is referred to as the C-Suite. For this reason, the Englishman’s position had to be thoroughly examined by an independent body. It was unlikely that a judgment on such a delicate matter for F1 would arrive quickly. It will take about two weeks to clarify this thorny issue.
It is noteworthy that the hypothetical injured party and the manager from Leamington Spa have continued to work together in the Milton Keynes offices. Horner has even participated in some filming related to the car launch next Thursday, which will include celebrations for the team’s 20th-anniversary, with media representatives invited to attend.
Reflecting on typical cases, in situations like this, or even less severe ones, the manager is usually precautionarily suspended, especially to avoid potential “contamination” of the investigations. However, according to English sources, the company is currently controlled by a board of directors including Franz Watzlawick (CEO), Alexander Kirchmayr (CFO), and Oliver Mintzlaff.
F1: The near future of Christian Horner and Red Bull
Regardless of the verdict, Christian Horner’s managerial reputation is now tainted. There are essentially two possible scenarios. If Oliver Mintzlaff, head of Red Bull’s sports division after Mateschitz’s death, deems it economically and image-wise detrimental to dismiss the team principal at the height of his glory, Christian may receive only a “mere” verbal reprimand for behavior befitting his level of responsibility.
If, on the other hand, the narrative is deemed unacceptable, the manager risks losing all positions within Red Bull Sport. In the short term, the repercussions may not be catastrophic. After the spy story, Ron Dennis won the world title but was slowly marginalized by his own creation. The risk is in the long term. Over the years, Horner has built a team that borders on perfection, and key collaborators owe their success to the CEO of Red Bull.
Based on a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise, Horner is innocent in the eyes of F1. However, when the independent body pronounces its verdict, a domino effect could ensue. Many technicians may start looking around. In recent days, there has been persistent talk of a possible hiring of Red Bull’s No. 2 in the technical direction by Ferrari: Pierre Waché.
Moreover, Lewis Hamilton’s arrival at Maranello in 2025 has forced the Mercedes team to secure their top engineers with “anti-poaching” clauses, and consequently, Red Bull could be subject to a possible market. During the toughest times, Horner has served as the “firewall” for many successful technicians.
This is why his hypothetical removal from F1 could not only eliminate that invisible shield enjoyed by many figures but could “force” some individuals to distance themselves from a manager who may have acted improperly. One thing is certain, the 19 years of field experience gained by Christian amid great triumphs and resounding defeats may be extremely difficult to replace.
Source: Roberto Cecere for FUnoanalisitecnica