Motor racing-FIA and F1 break silence on Horner ahead of testing

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Las Vegas Grand Prix - Las Vegas Strip Circuit, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S - November 17, 2023 Red Bull team principal Christian Horner ahead of practice REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One and its governing body have commented for the first time on allegations against Red Bull boss Christian Horner who is fighting to save his job at the reigning world champions with testing and the start of the season looming.

Red Bull's parent company in Austria announced on Feb. 5 an independent investigation into the 50-year-old Briton's conduct after unspecified allegations against him. The process remains ongoing. Horner has denied any wrongdoing.

Formula One's commercial rights holder issued a short statement on Sunday in which it hoped "that the matter will be clarified at the earliest opportunity, after a fair and thorough process."

The Paris-based FIA followed on Monday with a statement emphasising that it "remains committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity, fairness and inclusivity within the sport."

Both said they would make no further comment until the outcome was known.

Neither the energy drink company nor the British-based team have given details of the allegations, although media reports have spoken of inappropriate and controlling behaviour towards a female colleague.

Horner said at the launch of his team's RB20 car in Milton Keynes last Friday that he was confident and cooperating with the process and denied "absolutely any allegation that's been made against me."

A Feb. 9 hearing in London with an independent barrister lasted almost eight hours, according to Sky Sports.

The Briton is due to attend testing in Bahrain this week and is scheduled to appear in a regular FIA news conference on Thursday with other team principals before the opening race at Sakhir on March 2.

Should Horner be forced out of Red Bull it would come as a seismic shock for the sport.

Horner and his team celebrated the most dominant season in Formula One history last year, with Red Bull winning 21 of 22 races, and will start the new season with Dutch driver Max Verstappen chasing a fourth successive title.

Horner is also the longest serving team boss in Formula One and was by far the youngest when he led Red Bull into the sport in 2005.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)

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