Home » Christian Horner: Red Bull team boss says allegations are ‘distraction’

Christian Horner: Red Bull team boss says allegations are ‘distraction’

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Christian Horner: Red Bull team boss says allegations are ‘distraction’

The allegations overshadowed the launch of Red Bull’s new Formula 1 car, the RB20, the follow-up to last year’s RB19, which together with driver Max Verstappen produced the most dominant season in F1 history.

The launch was planned many weeks ago to celebrate the 20th F1 car produced by Red Bull, and was held inside an industrial unit at the team’s Milton Keynes campus.

When the allegations against Horner emerged a couple of weeks ago, many expected the event to be called off, or at least for Horner not to be there. But it was decided to go ahead as planned.

A glitzy presentation featured highlights of the team’s two decades in F1, and interviews with Horner, chief technical officer Adrian Newey, technical director Pierre Wache and David Coulthard, who joined as a driver for Red Bull’s first season in 2005 and is now an ambassador for the company.

There was a sound-and-light show before the car was unveiled, and the new model did not disappoint in including a couple of obvious innovations that will set tongues wagging up and down the pit lane.

During the presentation, only one moment jarred, when Coulthard made a joke about Horner “getting his kit off”.

It was a reference to celebrations after the team’s first podium finish in Monaco in 2006, when Horner jumped into the swimming pool on the Red Bull barge in the harbour with only a Superman cape protecting his modesty.

But in the light of the allegations swirling around him – details of which have not been made public – it caused eyebrows to raise in the auditorium.

In his interview with BBC television, and later ones with the written media, Horner was consistent in his denials of the allegations and said: “I’m confident. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”

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But there was at least one misstep. Having told BBC Sport on camera that the allegations were a distraction, he played the idea down when speaking to a wider group of journalists.

“Look,” he said, when asked the same question. “I think at moments of uncertainty, it brings the team together and I have never seen the team more together or more supportive than it is.

“Everybody’s focused on one thing, which is the performance of that car – to go out and defend both the titles we have worked hard to achieve over the last couple of years. The car is what everybody is invested in.”

It was suggested to him that in such scenarios elsewhere a chief executive officer might be expected to step aside until any investigation had been completed. Why had that not been the case at Red Bull?

“It’s very, very clear,” Horner said. “The position of Red Bull is that it’s business as normal. Of course the allegations; there’s a process Red Bull are running through and have confirmed that process externally. But obviously there is a job to do and I deny fully the accusations that have been made and my role continues.”

Horner’s PR minder let the inquisition continue by and large. But one question did prompt an intervention.

Had any deal been offered to the complainant to shut the complaint down, Horner was asked?

“Let’s not go on with that,” the spokesperson said.

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