Horner bullish over Red Bull budget ahead of FIA investigation results

By Sports Desk October 03, 2022

Christian Horner remains confident Red Bull did not breach Formula One's budget cap rules last season ahead of the results of an FIA investigation.

The constructor faced reports both they and Aston Martin spent more than the $145million during Max Verstappen's title-winning campaign in 2021.

As Sergio Perez stormed to victory at the Singapore Grand Prix, clamour over the findings reached fever pitch, with Mercedes principal Toto Wolff claiming the breach was an "open secret".

But Horner has reiterated his belief the team remain inside budget constraints, while continuing to linger the threat of legal action against his rival over comments he considers defamatory.

"We're absolutely confident in our submission," he said. "Our audit was signed off by our auditors. We believe we are comfortably within the cap.

"We will consider all of our options. It was totally unacceptable to make a completely unfounded allegation – and on the basis of what knowledge? Where is this source of information?

"It was a confidential submission between the team and the FIA. I have no idea of the compliance of any of our rivals. So where does that information supposedly come from?"

Verstappen holds a 104-point lead over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, and is closing in on his second world title, though if the FIA were to find Red Bull in breach last season, there could potentially be future repercussions on his prospects.

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  • Wolff urges F1 authorities to ‘set the compass right’ amid Horner controversy Wolff urges F1 authorities to ‘set the compass right’ amid Horner controversy

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has urged Formula One and its governing body to “set the compass right” amid continued controversy surrounding Christian Horner.

    Horner was earlier this week cleared to continue as Red Bull team principal following an internal probe into “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female colleague.

    But the 50-year-old faced subsequent scrutiny after a series of leaked WhatsApp messages –  appearing to be exchanged between him and his complainant – were leaked to all the major players in the sport.

    FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem told the Financial Times on Friday that the turmoil is “damaging the sport on a human level”. F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali has not commented on the matter.

    Earlier this week, Wolff called for greater transparency from Red Bull Racing’s parent company, Red Bull GmbH, who conducted the investigation.

    The Austrian corporation said it was confident the inquiry into Horner had been “fair, rigorous and impartial” and added that the report – understood to stretch to 150 pages – is “confidential”. Horner has always denied the claims.

    “Let’s see where it goes in the next days,” said Wolff on Saturday night. “I would very much hope that the governing body, the sanctioning body and the commercial rights’ holder sets the compass right.

    “But the moment I start to continue to question how this has been handled, I am probably not doing any good to the whole issue, because then it could be seen as this just being about a power fight within F1.

    “That’s why I think it’s not in the team’s hands. It’s a much bigger topic than that and I don’t want to diminish the whole situation by making it seem like the Mercedes guy is talking about the Red Bull guys.”

    Wolff was speaking after a disappointing opening race of the season for his Mercedes team at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    George Russell started third and finished fifth – 47 seconds behind winner Max Verstappen – with Lewis Hamilton taking the chequered flag in seventh, 50 sec adrift.

    Wolff continued: “Max is in a different league, a different galaxy. We just have to acknowledge his performance levels.

    “But I believe that the group of Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes were probably in a similar ballpark. We just need to look at ourselves, get on top of our problems and if we are able to manage our race weekend better, we will be racing those guys.”

  • Christian Horner ‘absolutely’ confident he will ride out the storm Christian Horner ‘absolutely’ confident he will ride out the storm

    Christian Horner said he is “absolutely confident” he will ride out the storm of his life and remain as Red Bull team principal for the rest of the season.

    The build-up to the first round of the Formula One campaign here in Bahrain has been overshadowed by allegations whirling around Horner.

    But the 50-year-old, who was joined by his wife Geri in a defiant show of unity ahead of Saturday’s 57-lap race, can take temporary relief from seeing Max Verstappen lead a Red Bull one-two, with Sergio Perez second.

    Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz crossed the line in third, one place ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc, with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton a disappointing fifth and seventh respectively for Mercedes.

    Asked if he is confident he will stay on as Red Bull team principal for the rest of the season, Horner replied: “Absolutely. Absolutely.”

    During an extraordinary week in the Gulf kingdom, Horner was exonerated by Red Bull Racing parent’s company, Red Bull GmbH, on Wednesday following an internal probe into allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” made by a female colleague.

    But hundreds of WhatsApp messages, appearing to be exchanged between him and the complainant, were then leaked to the F1 world.

    Horner has remained steadfast throughout, and strode hand-in-hand with Geri along the paddock one hour and 45 minutes before the lights went out.

    Red Bull’s majority shareholder and Horner ally, Thai billionaire Chalerm Yoovidhya, also joined the duo on the team’s terrace in a very public show of support for the embattled team principal.

    Horner planted a kiss on wife Geri before he headed to the Red Bull pit wall to watch his team blow away their rivals. Geri later headed to the garage to watch the race.

    The pair stood together smiling underneath the podium as Verstappen celebrated his 18th win from the past 19 races.

    An emotional Horner continued: “I have the support of an incredible family, an incredible wife, an incredible team and everybody within that team.

    “And my focus is going racing, winning racing and doing the best I can.

    “It was a day about starting the season in the best possible way. My focus is on this team, my family, my wife and racing.”

    Horner was also quizzed about the leaked Google file which was sent from an anonymous email account to 149 members of the F1 paddock – including FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem, F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali and the grid’s nine other team principals, as well as members of the media.

    Horner said: “I am not going to comment on anonymous speculative messages from an unknown source. I am not going to comment on what motives whatever person may have for doing this.

    “Obviously, it has not been pleasant with some of the unwanted attention, but the focus is very much on the cars and my focus has been on what is happening on track and the result today demonstrates where the focus is and we move onwards.

    “There was a full, lengthy internal process that was completed by an independent KC and the grievance that was raised was dismissed. End of. Move on.

    “You could see what it (the win) meant to the whole team. It is better to do your talking on the track.

    “I have always been entirely confident that I would be here and my focus is on the season, and the races we have ahead.”

    Horner is set to be back in the spotlight in just five days when the cars hit the track in practice for the next round in Saudi Arabia.

  • Max Verstappen eases to dominant Bahrain Grand Prix win Max Verstappen eases to dominant Bahrain Grand Prix win

    Max Verstappen delivered for Christian Horner’s crisis-hit Red Bull team by winning the opening race of the Formula One season in Bahrain on Saturday.

    The build-up to the first round of the campaign here in the Gulf Kingdom has totally been overshadowed by allegations whirling around Red Bull team principal Horner.

    But Horner, who was joined by his wife Geri in a show of unity ahead of Saturday’s 57-lap race, can take temporary relief from seeing Verstappen lead a Red Bull one-two, with Sergio Perez second.

    Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz took the chequered flag in third, one place ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton a disappointing fifth and seventh respectively for Mercedes. McLaren’s Lando Norris finished sixth.

    During an extraordinary week in Bahrain, Horner was exonerated by Red Bull Racing parent’s company, Red Bull GmbH, on Wednesday following an internal probe into allegations of “inappropriate made by a female colleague.

    Hundreds of WhatsApp messages appearing to be written by him were then leaked to the F1 world a day later.

    Horner has remained defiant throughout and put on a show of unity with his Spice Girl wife Geri, as they strode hand-in-hand along the paddock one hour and 45 minutes before the lights went out.

    Red Bull’s majority shareholder and Horner ally, Thai billionaire Chalerm Yoovidhya, joined the duo on the team’s terrace in another public show of support for Horner.

    Horner planted a kiss on wife Geri before he headed to pit wall to watch his team blow away their rivals.

    Verstappen has raced to the past three world championships and his crushing streak looks set to continue into 2024 following a commanding lights-to-flag win.

    The Dutch driver saw off team-mate Perez’s challenge by 22.4 seconds to take his 18th win from the last 19 F1 races and, remarkably, his 36th victory since Hamilton last won a grand prix.

    “Great start to the year, guys, a one-two finish, as well so fantastic,” said Verstappen over the team radio.

    Horner replied: “As you say, Max, pole-position, one-two finish, fastest lap, a clean sweep. A brilliant way to start the year. Thanks very much.”

    Such was Red Bull’s stranglehold on last season’s championship, that they were afforded the luxury of turning their attention to this year’s machine earlier than their competitors.

    And revered designer Adrian Newey appears to have built a car which could take Verstappen to another stratosphere.

    After holding off the challenge from Ferrari’s Leclerc on the run down to the opening corner, his victory never appeared in doubt. By the end of lap 11, Verstappen had already pulled 10 seconds clear.

    Behind, Russell was on the move – taking second from Leclerc on the third lap in an encouraging start for the Mercedes man.

    But that would be as good as it got for the Silver Arrows, with Perez moving ahead of Russell on the exit of Turn 4 on lap 14 before Sainz gazumped the British driver for third three laps later.

    Hamilton started ninth and was making little early progress, complaining on lap 25 that his seat was broken.

    He started to make his way through the field, getting past McLaren’s Oscar Piastri on lap 35 and then Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin for seventh on lap 39.

    But the seven-time world champion, who will join Ferrari next year, made no inroads into Norris ahead before Mercedes’ poor evening was dealt another blow when Leclerc took fourth off Russell with 11 laps to run.

    Hamilton finished 50 seconds behind Verstappen.

    For Verstappen, it was another emphatic display, with fireworks exploding into the night sky as he cemented his status as the overwhelming favourite to march to another title – despite Red Bull’s ongoing off-track turbulence.

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