Zak Brown Urges Quick Resolution In Investigation Of Horner

McLaren's Zak Brown emphasises the unwanted nature of such publicity for F1, with Horner refuting the accusations.

Mark Phelan

By Mark Phelan
Updated on February 22, 2024

Zak Brown Bahrain 2024 Preseason Testing

Zak Brown, the CEO of McLaren, has voiced his opinion for a quick and clear conclusion to the investigation surrounding Red Bull’s Christian Horner, who is accused of misconduct.

During a press briefing at Bahrain testing, an event that also saw Horner’s attendance, Brown expressed, “They need to handle it swiftly because I don’t believe these are the type of headlines that Formula 1 wants or needs at this time.”

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The inquiry into Horner began earlier in February by Red Bull GmbH, the Formula 1 team’s Austrian parent organisation, after a female colleague brought forward a complaint of unsuitable behaviour.

Horner, aged 50 and staunchly denying these claims, was interviewed on February 9 by an independent barrister leading the investigation. The interview concluded without an outcome on the issue.

On February 15, Horner made his first public remarks since the allegations surfaced during the unveiling of Red Bull’s car for the 2024 season, where he reiterated his denial.

Currently in Bahrain for preseason testing, Horner made his first formal appearance in a Formula 1 press conference since the onset of the investigation. Alongside him were four other team principles, including McLaren’s CEO Brown, who was prompted to comment on the ongoing situation.

“McLaren holds themselves and all the men and women at McLaren to the highest standards. Obviously, diversity and equality and inclusion are extremely important to us, our partners, to everyone in Formula 1.

“Red Bull corporation it appears has launched an investigation and all we hope and assume is that will be handled in a very transparent way.

“As FIA and Formula 1 has said, they need to handle it swiftly because I don’t believe these are the type of headlines that Formula 1 wants or needs at this time. I just think it’s important that it’s handled in a transparent way in which there is no doubt and no doubt whatsoever that it has been handled appropriately and whatever the conclusion is that that conclusion is handled in an appropriate, transparent manner.”

Facing the press for the first time since addressing inquiries at Red Bull’s car unveiling last Thursday, Horner encountered two questions about the investigation during the same press conference as Brown, but stated he could not provide any comments.

“As you are well aware, there is a process going on which I form part of and as I form part of that process, I’m afraid I cannot comment on it,” Horner said.

When asked a second time, later on, he echoed his previous stance. However, he reaffirmed his hope, initially expressed at the car launch, for a resolution to the investigation to be “as soon as possible”.

“I’m dreadfully sorry but I really can’t comment on the process or the timescale,” he said. “I think obviously everybody would like a conclusion as soon as possible but I’m really not at liberty to comment about the process.”

Wolff highlights concern as a collective matter for Formula 1

A day before Brown’s comments, Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal, shared a comparable perspective on the Horner investigation during Wednesday’s press conference in Bahrain.

Wolff emphasised, “I think it’s clear. Formula 1 and what the teams do, we stand for inclusion, equality, fairness, diversity and that’s not only talking about it but living it day-in, day-out,” said Wolff.

“And I think these are the standards we’re setting ourselves. We are a global sport, one of the most important sports platforms in the world, and we are role models.

“But having said that, there is a lot of speculation that’s been happening over the last weeks, speculation that we have heard of, and lots of things that are going on.

“Because we want to talk about racing cars and we want to talk about the sport rather than these kind of very critical topics, that are more [than] just a team’s issue, it’s a phenomenon or it’s an issue for all of Formula 1 and in general for every individual that works out there.”

Wolff’s comments followed shortly after Formula 1 issued a statement urging Red Bull to offer clear details about the situation swiftly.

“We have noted Red Bull has instigated an independent investigation into internal allegations at Red Bull Racing,” the statement said. “We hope matter will be clarified at earliest opportunity, after a fair and thorough process. Will not comment further at this time.”

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About The Author

Senior Editor

Mark Phelan
Mark Phelan

Mark is a staff writer specialising in the history of Formula 1 races. Mark researches most of our historic content from teams to drivers and races. He has followed Formula 1 since 1988, and admits to having a soft spot for British drivers from James Hunt and Nigel Mansell to Lando Norris. He loves a great F1 podcast and has read pretty much every drivers biography.

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