Christian Horner demands end to ‘family intrusion’ after Red Bull female accuser suspended

Christian Horner demanded an end to the saga engulfing Red Bull and the world of Formula 1, imploring at the end of a highly-charged press conference: “The intrusion on my family is enough.”

The Red Bull team principal was speaking at a press conference a matter of hours after the female colleague who raised a complaint of “inappropriate behaviour” against the F1 boss was suspended by Red Bull Racing.

It emerged on Thursday that the accuser has been suspended, on full pay, with the decision said to be taken as a result of the findings of the internal probe. A Red Bull spokesperson stated: “The company cannot comment on this internal matter”.

Yet Horner, at an FIA team principals’ press conference in Saudi Arabia, urged the media to “draw a line” under the current controversy and insisted the intrusion on his wife Geri Halliwell and his family must stop.

“Obviously it’s been a very trying period,” Horner said. “I’m married and have three children, and when that intrusion involves your children, and your marriage - and I’m very thankful I have a beautiful family and a very supportive wife.

“I’m the only one who has been named in this. So of course, it’s very trying. When there’s children involved, family, parents… it’s not pretty.

“The reality is there was a grievance that was raised, it was dealt with in the most professional manner by the group, not Red Bull Racing but the parent company, they appointed one of the top barristers in the land. He looked at everything. He looked at all the facts and he looked at the case and dismissed the grievance.

“As far as I’m concerned, as my wife has been phenomenally supportive throughout this. But the intrusion on my family is now enough. We need to move forward.

“Obviously there’s been an awful lot of coverage surrounding this. But one has to go back to the basis that a grievance was raised, it was investigated, and it was dismissed.

“It’s been of great interest to different elements of the media, for different reasons. I think it is time now to draw a line under it.”

Christian Horner implored on Thursday: ‘The intrusion on my family is enough’ (Getty Images)
Christian Horner implored on Thursday: ‘The intrusion on my family is enough’ (Getty Images)

The female complainant has, according to Sky News, five working days to file an appeal against the investigation outcome, having received a legal letter on Monday or Tuesday.

Horner refused to comment on Thursday’s development of the suspension, for “confidentiality” reasons, but criticised those who have looked to take “advantage” of the current turmoil at the world championship-winning team.

Asked what the saga shows for F1 as an inclusive sport for women, Horner replied: “I think it’s a complicated issue, because within any company - and this company will be the same as others - there is a grievance process that takes place within the company, and that is private between the individuals.

“I’m not at liberty, and out of respect to the company and the other party, we’re all bound by the same restrictions. So even if I would like to talk about it, I can’t due to those confidentiality restrictions.

“The only reason it has gained so much attention is because of the leakage in the media. And that’s been trying, particularly for my family because it’s all been focused in one direction. And what has happened after that is other people have taken advantage of it. What has then happened is that others have looked to benefit from it, and that’s maybe not the pretty side of our sport.

Horner was hand-in-hand with Geri Halliwell at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday (Formula 1/Getty)
Horner was hand-in-hand with Geri Halliwell at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday (Formula 1/Getty)

“But it’s not an FIA issue, it’s not a Formula One issue. It’s a company issue. And that would be the same as it is in any organisation.

“There’s been one thing after another. As I say, there’s been an awful lot of leakage around this, in what is a private and confidential matter. Unfortunately, it’s through that leakage that it’s garnered an awful lot of coverage.”

Horner did reveal that discussions had taken place with the Verstappen entourage in the past few days after Max’s father Jos insisted the team would “explode” should Horner remain in his role.

“I spoke to Jos following the grand prix and obviously congratulated him on his son’s performance, and I think it’s in everyone’s interest that we’ve agreed to focus on the future,” Horner said.

“We have a vested interest together to do the best for his son. Hopefully we can continue to provide him with a very competitive car.”