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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s F1 team principal, under investigation by company

Red Bull has commissioned an investigation into Christian Horner, the team principal of its highly successful Formula 1 racing team.

In a statement Monday, Red Bull characterized the investigation of Horner, who is also CEO of Oracle Red Bull Racing, as independent. It would not detail the reason behind the investigation.

“After being made aware of certain recent allegations, the company launched an independent investigation. This process, which is already underway, is being carried out by an external specialist barrister,” Red Bull said in a statement provided to NBC News. “The company takes these matters extremely seriously and the investigation will be completed as soon as practically possible. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

Horner has denied any wrongdoing, according to international media reports.

Horner did not immediately respond to requests from NBC News for comment sent through social media and to a Hollywood agency that represents him as a paid speaker. Formula 1 also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Red Bull is the reigning constructors’ champion in the world’s premier auto racing series.

In the 2023 season, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen blew past competitors for a third drivers championship in a row, and the team won the constructors’ title for the second year in a row.

Horner, 50, has led Red Bull since 2005, developing a reputation for having sharp elbows but enjoying extraordinary success, including four drivers’ championships with Sebastian Vettel from 2010 to 2013 before Verstappen’s three-peat from 2021 to 2023. They have won six constructors’ championships on Horner’s watch.

He married pop star Geri Halliwell of Spice Girls fame in 2015. Last year he was bestowed the honor of Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

News of the investigation came as London-headquartered Formula 1 has seen increasing success in the United States, a market that it had struggled to penetrate for years. It comes less than a month before the first race of the 2024 season, scheduled to take place in Bahrain on March 2.

The league held three races in the United States in 2023, added an American driver, and saw domestic viewership grow in recent years. It is scheduled to host the three U.S. races again this year in Miami, Austin and Las Vegas.

Last year ESPN, which televises the races, said each race’s domestic television audience in 2021 drew nearly 1 million viewers on average, and that grew 28% in 2023.

Since 2019, the Netflix show “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” also made a splash globally, and Horner has loomed large in the docuseries, which has pitted him against other team bosses as each season progresses.

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