- Christian Horner was acquitted of “coercive behavior towards an employee”
Sky Sports’ coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix quickly moved on from the controversy surrounding Red Bull boss Christian Horner after acknowledging the sport is on the “front and back pages”.
Horner is facing fresh pressure after what appeared to be intimate WhatsApp exchanges with a female colleague were sent to Formula One’s most influential figures on Thursday.
The explosive email contained 79 documents, including hundreds of messages, many of them sexual in nature.
The anonymous sender copied prominent figures in the sport, including FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali, as well as accredited media gathered in Bahrain for the opening race of the season plagued by scandals.
About 24 hours earlier, Horner had been cleared of “coercive behavior” by his team’s parent company, Red Bull GmbH, in Salzburg. This followed an internal investigation, led by a KC, which compiled 150 pages of findings.
Throughout the investigation, Christian Horner maintained his innocence and insisted he was going nowhere.
Red Bull began its investigation into Horner, husband of former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, on February 5
Simon Lazenby (right) alongside Martin Brundle (left) and Naomi Schiff (centre): The broadcaster has the rights to broadcast all 24 races of this year’s F1 season, which begins this weekend in Bahrain.
On Thursday, during practice coverage for the first Grand Prix of the new season in Bahrain, Sky Sports chose to focus the discussion on the “sports side” of the situation.
This steadfast mantra persisted as coverage began on Friday, although the broadcaster acknowledged the issue that is overshadowing the curtain raiser in the Gulf State.
Sky Sports F1 main presenter Simon Lazenby admitted in his introduction that “the longest season in Formula One history begins with the sport on the front and back covers.”
On Thursday, the directors of Horner’s rival team asked the FIA and Formula One to examine Red Bull’s decision.
“I just read the statement (relating to Wednesday’s decision, after a process Red Bull GmbH described as ‘fair, rigorous and impartial’), it was quite basic,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. ‘My personal opinion is that we can’t really look behind the curtain. There is a lady in an organization who spoke to HR and told her there was a problem. She investigated herself and yesterday the sport received the message that everything is fine, we have analyzed it.
“I think that with the aspiration of being a global sport, on such critical issues, more transparency is needed and I wonder where the sport stands.”
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