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Christian Horner: Toto Wolff and Zak Brown call for F1 bosses to review Red Bull investigation into team principal

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was subject of an investigation launched by the F1 team's Austrian parent company following allegations of inappropriate behaviour; Mercedes' Toto Wolff and McLaren's Zak Brown have urged Formula 1 and the FIA to review Red Bull's investigation

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Mercedes and McLaren team principals Toto Wolff and Zak Brown have both urged Formula One to show more transparency after Red Bull boss Christian Horner was cleared of inappropriate behaviour

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and McLaren’s Zak Brown have called on Formula 1 and the FIA to review the Red Bull investigation that resulted in team principal Christian Horner being cleared following allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Red Bull GmbH, the parent company of Formula 1's reigning constructors' champions, announced on Wednesday that Horner had been cleared after allegations had been made against him by a female colleague, who retains the right to appeal.

Horner, who denied the allegations throughout the process, remained in his dual roles of team principal and chief executive during the investigation and arrived in Bahrain on Wednesday evening ahead of Saturday's season-opening race.

Giving his first interview after the announcement, Horner on Thursday morning told Sky Sports News that he was "pleased that the process is over" and that the team was "focused on the season ahead."

Speaking in a team principals' press conference later on Thursday, Mercedes boss Wolff said: "Well I just read the statement, which was pretty basic, I would say.

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner speaks for the first time after allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against him were dismissed. The complainant has the right to appeal against the verdict

"My personal opinion is we can't really look behind the curtain. At the end of the day, there is a lady in an organisation that has spoken to HR and said there is an issue. It was investigated and yesterday the sport has received a message, 'it's all fine. We've looked at it.'

"And I believe that with the aspirations as a global sport, on such critical topics, it needs more transparency and I wonder what the sport's position is.

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"We are competitors, we are a team and we can have our own personal opinions or not, but it's more like a general reaction or action that we as a sport need to assess what is right in that situation and what is wrong."

McLaren chief executive Brown had joined Wolff during last week's pre-season testing in calling for transparency and urgency with the investigation, and this time said that more information was required for the sport to "be able to draw a line under" the situation.

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Sky F1's Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle, and Naomi Schiff discuss the potential impact the investigation into Christian Horner on the Red Bull team

"I read this statement. I think from what I've seen there continues to be a lot of rumours and speculation, questions," Brown said.

"I think the sanctioning body has a responsibility and authority to our sport, to our officials. I think all of us in Formula 1 are ambassadors for the sport on and off the track, like you see in other sports, and so I think they need to make sure that things have been fully transparent with them.

"And I don't know what those conversations are and that needs to be thorough, fully transparent, and that they come to the same conclusion that has been given by Red Bull, and that they've agreed with the outcome.

"But I think until then, there'll continue to be speculation because there are a lot of unanswered questions about the whole process.

"So I think that's what's needed by those that run the sport to really be able to draw a line under it. Until then, I think there'll continue to be some level of speculation by people and I don't think that's healthy for the sport."

Thursday's comments from Wolff and Brown came before material purporting to be the alleged evidence in the investigation was leaked to numerous media organisations and F1 team principals from an anonymous email account, after which Horner released a statement reiterating his denial of the allegations.

Wolff: F1 cannot be vague on critical topics

Red Bull GmbH's statement on Wednesday said that it was confident the external investigation, carried out by a specialist barrister, had been "fair, rigorous and impartial".

The Austrian company added: "The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned."

Formula 1 released a statement on February 18 urging Red Bull to clarify the situation at the earliest possible opportunity, while the sport's governing body, the FIA, a day later said that it would not comment until the investigation was concluded.

Both organisations had not seen the report as of Thursday morning, and have yet to comment since Red Bull GmbH's announcement.

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Lewis Hamilton described the investigation into alleged inappropriate behaviour by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner as 'a really important moment'

When asked about the balance of demanding more information versus respecting the privacy of those involved, Wolff added: "We're being asked questions as competitors here and are we talking as competitors, are we talking with the right moral approach, with the values based on the speculations that are out there?

"But I just simply think that as a sport we cannot afford to leave things in the vague and in the opaque on critical topics like this because this is going to catch us out. Because we are in a super transparent world, eventually, things are going to happen and I think we have the duty, or the organisation has the duty to say, 'we've looked at it and it's okay,' and then we can move on.

"I think it's sometimes very short-sighted to try to supress it. I'm not saying this has happened. We're standing from the outside and looking at it, but just as a given statements or press releases or timelines, it just seems that it's not as modern as things go in this world in the real world out there. But maybe in Formula 1, we just have a little bubble and we think that's okay."

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Sky Sports News' Craig Slater analyses what's next for Christian Horner after allegations against him were dismissed

Brown, meanwhile, reiterated that responsibility for deciding on what needs to be shared by Red Bull GmbH lies with the sport's bosses.

"I think it's the responsibility ultimately of the organisers of Formula 1, the owners of Formula 1, to make sure that all the racing teams and the personnel and the drivers and everyone involved in the sport are operating in a manner in which we all live by, so I don't think it's the team's roles and responsibilities," Brown said.

"I think that's up to FIA and Formula 1, to ultimately decide and ask what they feel gives them the level of transparency that they need to ultimately come to their conclusion, and we just have to count on them that they fulfil that obligation to all of us."

Sky Sports F1's live Bahrain GP schedule

Friday March 1

  • 10.10am: F3 Sprint Race
  • 12.15pm: Bahrain GP Practice Three (session starts at 12.30pm)
  • 2.10pm: F2 Sprint Race
  • 3.10pm: Bahrain GP Qualifying build-up
  • 6pm: Ted's Qualifying Notebook

Saturday March 2

  • 8.55am: F3 Feature Race
  • 10.25am: F2 Feature Race
  • 1.30pm: Bahrain GP build-up: Grand Prix Saturday
  • 5pm: Bahrain GP reaction: Chequered Flag
  • 6pm: Ted's Notebook
  • 6.30pm: Bahrain GP highlights

Watch every round of the new season, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix this week, with the opening race on Saturday at 3pm.

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