Red Bull team principal Christian Horner will be grilled by a top independent lawyer at a hearing on Friday, which has reportedly been moved to a secret location. The 50-year-old is being investigated over allegations of ‘inappropriate behaviour’, which he vehemently denies, following a complaint by a Red Bull employee to the team’s parent company in Austria.
The investigation was confirmed by Red Bull earlier this week, with the team’s parent company having enlisted the help of a specialist barrister ahead of Friday’s hearing.
According to The Times, the hearing was initially set to take place at Red Bull’s headquarters in Milton Keynes but has since been moved to an undisclosed location. The widespread media interest in the saga, amplified by the fact that Horner’s wife Geri is a former Spice Girl, has reportedly forced Red Bull officials to ditch their original plan.
The report adds that Horner will face ‘hours of intense questioning’ by a top independent lawyer, who will recommend the best course of action once the hearing is complete. The occasion will be shrouded in secrecy, with Red Bull’s parent company having made a point of not sharing any details about Horner’s interview with members of staff.
A final decision is not expected to arrive before Red Bull’s car launch event next week due to the ‘complexity of the case’. It is said that a more realistic target is for the matter to be concluded before the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix in early March.
Meanwhile, BBC Sport have reported that a number of F1 insiders do not expect Horner to continue in his role as Red Bull team principal. If he is forced to step down, Red Bull managing director Oliver Mintzlaff is said to be among the likely candidates to replace him ahead of the new season.
Horner is one of the most successful team principals in the sport’s recent history, having led Red Bull to seven Drivers’ Championship titles and six Constructors’ Championship triumphs during his 19 years in charge. It is said that Horner has been working as normal in spite of the investigation and has even been taking part in some promotional filming over the last few days.
Red Bull issued a statement in response to the allegations on Monday, which read: “After being made aware of certain recent allegations, the company launched an independent investigation. This process, which is already under way, is being carried out by an external specialist barrister.
“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.”