Division at Red Bull: ‘Thai owner is on Horner’s side’

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Division at Red Bull: 'Thai owner is on Horner's side'

These are uncertain times for Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner, as it was announced earlier this week that Red Bull has opened an independent investigation into possible inappropriate behavior by the Briton. Motorsport journalist Erik van Haren, who was the first to break the news, does not see this investigation as separate from the power play between Helmut Marko and Christian Horner, which has been discussed for some time, while former driver Giedo van der Garde discusses possible replacements of the current team boss.

Van der Garde’s DRS: The Race Show podcast also spoke with Van Haren, who investigated for a while after he first heard about the investigation into Horner. Although Horner’s future appears to be uncertain, his fate is not yet settled, according to Van Haren. ‘I have the feeling that the Austrian side really wants to get rid of Horner, especially with this issue, and that the Thai owner (Chalerm Yoovidhya, ed.) is still on Horner’s side at the moment. Ultimately, he has the most important voice.’

Yoovidhya’s vote is crucial, because the Thai billionaire owns 51 percent of Red Bull’s shares. The other 49 percent are owned by Mark Mateschitz, the son of the late Red Bull founder, Dietrich Mateschitz. According to Van Haren, there is still tension between Marko and Horner, and Mateschitz would be more on his compatriot’s side. However, the ultimate power lies in Thailand.

Is Horner being kept away from the cameras?

The presentation of the RB20 is scheduled for Thursday, February 15, and although Horner will be interrogated by the external lawyer leading the investigation on Friday, February 9, there seems to be little chance that there will be clarity in a week. ‘Next Thursday is the presentation of the car. That is a very big presentation, also because the team wants to celebrate the team’s twenty-year anniversary,” says Van Haren. ‘They want to take a very big approach, and of course he would be the big man there. Of course he is in full view. I’m curious whether he will fight back internally and think: I’m just going to show myself everywhere, or whether he will take a step back and wait for the investigation.’

Van der Garde fears for Horner

However, Van der Garde is gloomy for Horner. “No,” says Van der Garde without any doubt when asked whether we will see Horner again. ‘Such a Horner is of course checked internally by Red Bull. Believe me, when that presentation comes next week, Horner will definitely not be there presenting,” said the former Caterham driver, who finally hung up his helmet earlier this winter. “If Horner is sent out, Jonathan Wheatley will probably become the new team boss,” Van der Garde predicts.

In the short term, however, the consequences for Red Bull will be limited, as the new car has already been built. ‘Very honest: it is of course dramatic for Red Bull that this happens, and then they have those presentations next week. I think that Red Bull will again come with a very good car, so in that respect I think they will have a very nice season, but this is a bit of a stain on the name and the team,” concludes Van der Garde .

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