Motor racing-Wolff says Horner case needs transparency and an issue for all F1

Formula One F1 - Pre-Season Testing - Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain - February 21, 2024 Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff during the pre-season testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

(Reuters) - Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said an inquiry into the conduct of Red Bull boss Christian Horner raised issues for Formula One as a whole and needed to be carried out rigorously and transparently.

Red Bull's parent company in Austria has launched an independent investigation into allegations against Horner, who denies any wrongdoing and is currently attending pre-season testing in Bahrain.

Neither the energy drink company nor the reigning champions have said what the allegations are, although media reports have spoken of inappropriate and controlling behaviour towards a female colleague.

No time frame has been given for an outcome, with the Formula One season starting in Bahrain on March 2.

"I think it's clear," Wolff told reporters at the Sakhir circuit on Wednesday in his first response to the turn of events.

"Formula One and what the teams do, we stand for inclusion, equality, fairness, diversity and that's not only talking about it but living it day in, day out.

"These are the standards that we are setting ourselves. We are a global sport, one of the most important sport platforms in the world and we are role models."

Wolff, whose intense rivalry with Horner has become a feature of the popular Netflix 'Drive to Survive' docu-series, noted considerable speculation surrounding the case in recent weeks and said it was important for there to be "a process with rigour".

Horner, 50, is the longest-standing team boss in Formula One with Red Bull -- whose star driver is triple champion Max Verstappen -- the dominant outfit.

The Briton is also married to former Spice Girls singer Geri Halliwell.

"I think what Red Bull has started as an independent investigation, if this is done in the right way, with transparency and rigour, that is something we need to look at," said Wolff.

The Austrian said the topics involved were "an issue for all of Formula One in general and every individual that works out there."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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