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Horner: what will change at Red Bull if he skips

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Horner: what will change at Red Bull if he skips

Red Bull’s decision on the alleged “inappropriate behavior” of the no. is awaited. 1. The French engineer attracted to Maranello

Luigi Perna

February 10, 2024 (change at 11:48) – MILAN

A meeting in London in a secret location, to guarantee maximum confidentiality, and a firm “no comment” on the contents of the discussion. It was foreseeable that Red Bull would have handled the internal trial against Christian Horner in this way, accused by an employee of “inappropriate behavior” and abuse of power, claims forcefully denied by the team principal. The hearing was held in the presence of an independent lawyer, who collected the evidence necessary to judge the episode: the conclusions could be made known shortly, perhaps before the presentation of the 2024 car, scheduled for February 15th at the headquarters of the team in Milton Keynes, but even longer times are not excluded, given the complexity of the matter. The Austrian branch of the company, headed by the CEO Oliver Mitzlaff and the son of the founder Mark Mateschitz, are determined to get to the bottom of the matter, counting on Helmut Marko as a guarantee of continuity at the top of the team.

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It could be the end of the career of Horner, one of the most charismatic and influential figures in F1, at the helm of Red Bull since its foundation in 2005. There is a risk that he will leave the scene in the most unpredictable and sensational way, after a triumphal 2022 that gave the team its thirteenth world title, if we consider the World Championships won with Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and among the Constructors. What will happen if Horner, husband of the famous singer Geri Halliwell of the Spice Girls, is not at the launch of the new Red Bull in five days? Many are asking this, predicting that this storm could also shake the rest of the team, calling into question the permanence of other key figures, in the event that Horner is judged responsible for what he is accused of. It is inevitable to think of Adrian Newey, the genius behind all of Red Bull’s triumphs, closely linked to Horner. They were both born in Warwickshire and attended the same school, ten years apart. It was Christian who took him to Milton Keynes, after the titles won with Williams and McLaren, convincing him that it would be a great challenge. They agreed during a dinner in Monte Carlo, linked to the promotion of the film Superman Returns, which was advertised by Red Bull. And they have remained together ever since. To the point that in Newey’s contract there would be a termination clause that could be exercised if Horner was removed or forced to resign.

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Ferrari has already tried on various occasions to hire the English technical director, considered the most talented aerodynamicist in the history of F.1, but without success. Newey himself said it: “The first time when I was in the United States, in IndyCar. Then in 1993 and famously in 2014″. The negotiation with Jean Todt, who had just started as team principal and was wondering whether to hire Michael Schumacher, did not come to fruition because Newey was reluctant to leave England after returning from the USA. Ferrari tried again in 2014, when Red Bull had already won 4 World Championships with Vettel and Newey was annoyed by Carlos Ghosn’s (Renault) refusal to invest more in power units. “But the discussions with Maranello were frustrating,” Newey said. Adding: “Emotionally, I think it’s a regret not having worked at Ferrari in my career. Just like, for example, working with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton would have been fabulous. Sometimes it’s just a matter of circumstance.” As it happens, he would now have the chance to make both dreams come true, given that the Cavallino has snatched Hamilton from Mercedes for 2025. Maybe Newey is giving it some thought. And it wouldn’t be surprising if Ferrari took the opportunity of the Horner case to attempt yet another assault on the “Genius”, who currently earns around 15 million euros. Another blow Meanwhile, the redhead may already have scored another blow. This would be the hiring of Pierre Waché, Newey’s right-hand man, which Ferrari had already explored last year and was refused. Now Waché is seriously considering accepting. Moreover, president John Elkann, by launching the Hamilton operation, demonstrated his desire to bring the team back to the top, counting on the attraction force of the seven-time world champion to entice the engineers to move to Maranello. A window could open up to get Enrico Balbo, the head of Red Bull’s aerodynamics team, another Ferrari target, and a cascade of other names. Who knows if Verstappen, under contract until 2028 and linked to Marko like a second father, will sleep soundly seeing what happens.

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