Christian Horner: Red Bull boss ‘handed Geri ultimatum’ after Max Verstappen crisis talks

Christian Horner is fighting to keep his career at Red Bull with his position as team principal of the F1 team still in serious question.

The 50-year-old was cleared of inappropriate behaviour following an internal investigation in the build-up to the Bahrain Grand Prix last week after allegations from a female employee. However, messages allegedly sent between Horner and a member of staff at the team were leaked just 24 hours after he had been handed a reprieve.

Those leaks have only intensified the scrutiny on Horner’s position, despite him insisting he will remain in his post following Red Bull’s one-two in the Formula 1 season opener. Horner, who has protested his innocence throughout, was joined in the paddock by his wife, Geri, at the weekend in a public show of support.

But The Sun have revealed that Geri has been left ‘frustrated’ after learning that her husband’s accuser is still in place at Red Bull and, therefore, still in touch with Horner. It’s claimed Geri has made it clear that she wants the employee ‘out of the picture’.

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The source told The Sun: “It’s frustrating for everyone and ridiculous to try to maintain business as usual in the circumstances.

“Something has to give.”

It comes with an F1 trade magazine preparing to run a 19-page investigation into the Horner situation. The piece will also document the power struggle at the top of Red Bull Racing to its 5,000 readers. Sources close to Horner have dismissed the piece as ‘full of inaccuracies’

And the hangover from the investigation into Horner’s conduct has also left the Red Bull chief fighting to keep star racer Max Verstappen on side. The three-time world champion’s father, Jos, has been outspoken on the matter and even called for Horner to leave his position.

Verstappen Snr said: “There is tension here while he (Horner) remains in position. The team is in danger of being torn apart. It can’t go on the way it is. It will explode. He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner speaks with Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner speaks with Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen 

Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto)
In a bid to iron out escalating tensions with the Verstappen camp, Horner held talks with Verstappen’s manager in Dubai on Monday in a bid to diffuse the escalating tensions following those comments. Senior Red Bull executives were also present at the meeting with Horner and Raymond Vermeulen.

Neither Jos nor his son were present but F1 sources insist the meeting “went well”, ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

Verstappen Snr has already decided that he will not attend the race in Jeddah after going public against Horner, who he was seen having a heated discussion with in Bahrain.

The face-to-face meeting comes shortly after it was alleged that Verstappen refused a request from FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem to back Horner publicly. Verstappen was reluctant to be drawn on the situation when he was asked post-race on Saturday.

He said: “From my side, and I think what I can see also from the mechanics and the engineers, we are fully focused on the car and the performance here during the weekend. And that’s how it should be, I think, and that’s what we continue to do, because it’s not our business. We’re not particularly involved in that.

“And we are here, we are paid to do our job, and that’s what we are doing and that’s also what we love doing. So that’s what we focus on.”

Horner insisted in Bahrain that he retained the full support of Red Bull, including the company’s majority shareholder, Thai billionaire Chalerm Yoovidhya, who joined Horner and his wife in Bahrain.

When he was asked if he was confident he would remain in his post for the season, he replied: “Absolutely. Absolutely.”

He then added: “I have the support of an incredible family, an incredible wife, an incredible team and everybody within that team. And my focus is on going racing, winning races, 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.”

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