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This should not be allowed to continue any longer than necessary. The Christian Horner saga filled every conversation at the Bahrain International Circuit yesterday and the man at the center of it pretended as best he could that everything was “normal”.
That has been his go-to line since allegations emerged that he is under investigation for allegedly coercive behavior toward a female employee, allegations he strongly denies.
And he stuck to the mantra as he walked across the sunlit paddock, where pre-season testing takes place, to take his place at a press conference, a date he held as if, yes, everything was “normal.” Later he signed autographs on the guests’ caps on the Red Bull terrace. He shook some hands and posed for selfies. She was forced bonhomie, of course, the brave outward face of a proud individual in the crisis of his life, all displayed for public consumption and the ubiquitous sonic boom of the Netflix team.
Parenthetically, how strange it would be for broadcasters if he left the sport after 19 years. He and his Spice Girl wife Geri bring glamor to the show. Together with Toto Wolff, his great interlocutor at Mercedes, he is one of the two modern giants of the team director’s Piranha Club and has never been shy in front of a camera, consciously. Not even now, although I obviously view the exhibition with less enthusiasm than before.
The accuser couldn’t be more optimistic away from the spotlight and the lines of photographers who followed him every step of the way.
The saga surrounding Red Bull team principal Christian Horner dominates the conversation
Horner has insisted that everything is operating normally in Bahrain despite being under investigation.
Horner and his Spice Girl wife Geri would be lost to broadcasters if he leaves the sport.
So there is no doubt that it is good news for all concerned that it can reveal that the results of the investigation, headed by an anonymous KC, are expected to be handed over to the Red Bull board of directors for determination in the future. next days. A resolution is expected before the first round of the world championship, which will be held in the Gulf kingdom next week.
Horner, 50, with so much at stake in his £8m-a-year job, would welcome such speed, and spoke yesterday of a conclusion “as soon as possible”, although his supporters say he “respects the investigation, however much it late”. ‘. One said: “This is not a public inquiry.”
This week in Bahrain, where the Red Bull car has been disturbingly fast, Wolff and McLaren boss Zak Brown called for transparency.
Wolff described it as “a problem for the whole of Formula One”. Brown, speaking yesterday, said: ‘The allegations are extremely serious. McLaren is governed by the highest standards of diversity, equality and inclusion.
‘These are extremely important for us and our partners, and for everyone in Formula One.
“Red Bull Corporation has launched an investigation, and all we hope and assume is that it will be handled in a very transparent way and, as the FIA and Formula One have said, quickly, because these are not the headlines that Formula One wants. .or needs.’
Resolution expected in Horner case before first test of F1 season
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff called Horner’s case a “problem for the entire Formula One.”
Back in Red Bull’s hospitality area, in one of the nicest paddocks in the sport (large enough, but intimate, the perfect size for gossip to travel door-to-door from team to team), there was Max Verstappen, his triple and reigning world. champion. He was conducting a media round with Dutch journalists.
It is a laugh that the person in charge of public relations at Red Bull hears. She doesn’t understand a word of Dutch. But whatever Max says, I know him well enough to assume that he would like the instability generated by questions about his boss’s future to go away. Run, sleep, run, sleep, that’s his style.
Yes, in a way everything is “normal” in the 13-time world championship-winning operation, its mechanics and engineers doing their polished jobs to perfection in the garage. But it is not “business as usual” and will not be until this matter is resolved.
Newey deserves a knighthood.
Adrian Newey, the greatest car designer in history, greeted me while taking my temperature at the Red Bull team base. He is a happy man right now. They are all there, smiling from ear to ear. Because his new machine is a rocket, more than a second faster in testing than a year ago, when they won all but one of the 22 races.
Nine motor racing greats have been knighted (if you include Sir Ron Dennis, officially honored for charity), since Sir Henry Segrave, then the fastest man on land and water, and died aged 33.
Newey, a genius who draws his designs on paper with a pencil, surely deserves to be included in the list of those ennobled.
Adrian Newey has designed a Red Bull car that is more than a second faster than last year’s
Drive to Survive leaves red faces in Mercedes
The new and sixth series Drive to Survive airs today. Mercedes’ involvement revolves around its contract negotiations with Lewis Hamilton. They thought the contract had been carefully tied with a bow at the top when he pledged himself to their cause last year. A two-season contract, a lifetime ambassadorship in prospect.
The seven-time world champion told Netflix that he was married to the Silver Arrows. Toto Wolff thought that red wouldn’t suit him anyway. All very understandably smug.
That was before Hamilton exercised an escape clause to move to Ferrari for 2025 in what was the biggest story of the winter break until the you-know-what scandal broke.
It was too late to cut or edit the program material. So red jumpsuits for Hamilton and red faces at Mercedes.
Lewis Hamilton’s contract negotiations with Mercedes are the focus of the latest series of Drive to Survive
Hamilton-backed film set for release in 2025
I’m told the Lewis Hamilton-backed F1 film is progressing quickly and will be released as planned in late summer next year.
Progress has been slowed by recent strikes in Hollywood, but with accelerated editing, everything is said to be on track. Brad Pitt, who plays a failed driver returning to motorsport as a team boss, will begin filming in person again at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Russell grows taller ahead of Hamilton’s departure
George Russell, at 6ft 2in and one of the tallest F1 drivers in a Lilliputian world, seemed to have grown a fraction when I spoke to him yesterday in Bahrain. “You look taller,” I said. “I think so,” he replied. “I’ve been hanging from a bar.” That and stretching and yoga: lessons for all of us slumped over laptops.
His shoulders are also back now that Hamilton leaves for Ferrari in a year’s time, with his desire to be number one at Mercedes secured when it looked like it could be a long wait to inherit that status. At 26 years old he wants the job and is clearly a talent.
However, judging by the tests, Mercedes is very far from the pace set by Red Bull, who isn’t? He told me the car “felt good to drive, but let’s see what the stopwatch says.” The hard facts seem to be the problem.
Specific times during the fake war are subject to how much fuel the cars are carrying, whether they are testing this part or that part, so there are plenty of caveats, but Mercedes seems to be in a group with Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin as the best. the rest that is not Red Bull. Job to be done, guys!
George Russell appears to have grown in stature as he prepares to become Mercedes’ number one driver.
Drivers are wrong to complain about lack of time for exams
Fernando Alonso was just one of the drivers to complain about the lack of proper pre-season testing, with action yesterday delayed by a dislodged drain cover. “More time to fix their cars,” they cry.
Well, eight hours of running each of the three days here isn’t bad. That’s a total of 24 hours, as even this GCSE C-grade mathematician can calculate, and surely enough time in this era of bulletproof reliability.
Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso complained about lack of proper pre-season testing
Mercedes celebrates the birthday of the great Niki Lauda
Niki Lauda would have turned 75 yesterday. Since the three-time world champion was non-executive chairman of Mercedes, his former teammates served the Austrian dessert based on Kaiserschmarrn pancakes last night in their hospitality area.
Niki was loyal to me when I had some disputes with his lieutenants, and a great man by any sensible standard.
Sky commentator to miss three races
David Croft will miss three races this year and has not missed any during his 12 years as Sky’s respected lead commentator. His place will be taken by BBC Radio 5 Live’s Harry Benjamin.