Christian Horner opens up on ‘testing’ week for wife Geri Halliwell and family

Horner was hand-in-hand with his wife in the Bahrain paddock ahead of the first race of the F1 season

Kieran Jackson
Sunday 03 March 2024 09:55 GMT
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Christian Horner admits the past week has been “testing” for him and his family as he strode into the Bahrain paddock hand-in-hand with wife Geri Halliwell prior to Saturday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Red Bull team principal was cleared of “inappropriate behaviour” on Wednesday after a three-week internal probe conducted by an external lawyer, following allegations from a female colleague which were strongly refuted by Horner, before WhatsApp texts allegedly between the two parties – some sexually suggestive – were leaked to the media 24 hours later.

Yet Horner has been present in the paddock in Bahrain throughout the race weekend, including Saturday as Max Verstappen eased to a first win of the season, and the 50-year-old accompanied his Spice Girl pop star wife Geri as she entered the Bahrain International Circuit.

The pair, who have a seven-year-old son, shared a kiss inside the Red Bull hospitality unit and were together celebrating Verstappen’s victory by the podium after the race in a clear show of solidarity after a week in the spotlight.

Speaking to media on the paddock, Horner said before the race: "It’s been very testing for my family but we are very strong as a family and our focus is on this race.

"It’s the start of the season, and the team have done an incredible job over the winter to be starting on pole position in the best place possible, so let’s see what we can do in the race.

"We are here to go racing and that is my job. So this is what we are focused on and this is what we are here to do."

Red Bull’s majority shareholder and Horner ally, Thai billionaire Chalerm Yoovidhya, also joined the duo on the team’s terrace in a very public show of support for the embattled team principal.

Horner, 50, met with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali on Friday at the Bahrain circuit. It remains to be seen how F1 and the sport’s governing body handle the matter in the next few days, after a saga which has overshadowed the first race of the 2024 season.

Horner could yet find himself in hot water with the sport’s governing body, the FIA, with Ben Sulayem having discussed the matter with Domenicali on Friday in Bahrain.

Christian Horner was hand-in-hand with wife Geri Halliwell at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday
Christian Horner was hand-in-hand with wife Geri Halliwell at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday (Getty Images)

All those who participate in Formula 1 must abide by a set of regulations, with Article 12.2 stating that a competitor could be found in breach of the code for: “Any words, deeds or writings that have caused moral injury or loss to the FIA, its bodies, its members or its executive officers, and more generally on the interest of motorsport and on the values defended by the FIA.”

Horner told the written press on Saturday night: “I am not going to comment on anonymous speculative messages from an unknown source. I am not going to comment on what motives whatever person may have for doing this.

“Obviously, it has not been pleasant with some of the unwanted attention, but the focus is very much on the cars and my focus has been on what is happening on track and the result today demonstrates where the focus is and we move onwards.

The pair shared a kiss in the Red Bull hospitality unit prior to the race
The pair shared a kiss in the Red Bull hospitality unit prior to the race (David Davies/PA Wire)

“There was a full, lengthy internal process that was completed by an independent KC and the grievance that was raised was dismissed. End of. Move on. You could see what it (the win) meant to the whole team. It is better to do your talking on the track.

“I have always been entirely confident that I would be here and my focus is on the season, and the races we have ahead.”

On the track, however, Red Bull picked up where they left off in 2023 as Verstappen led home a one-two finish for the team, with Sergio Perez finishing second.

When asked after the race if the Red Bull team were united, Horner told Sky Sports: “Yes absolutely. We’re a very strong team, tremendous support and partners, great shareholders. You don’t achieve this type of result without this support.”

Christian and Geri were celebrating Max Verstappen’s victory by the podium after the race
Christian and Geri were celebrating Max Verstappen’s victory by the podium after the race (Getty Images)

Questioned further on whether he would be in his role at the next race in seven days in Saudi Arabia, Horner replied: “Yeah absolutely, I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

The Red Bull F1 chief, 50, is the longest-serving team principal on the F1 grid, having been at the helm since the team’s inception in 2005.

Horner, who back in 2021 signed a contract extension at Red Bull until 2026, was made a CBE in the New Year’s Honours list for services to motorsport, having previously received an OBE in 2013.

He has been in charge of Red Bull for six constructors’ championship victories and seven drivers’ championship triumphs – three for Verstappen and four for Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull won 21 out of 22 races in 2023 in their most successful year so far in Formula 1, with Verstappen storming to his third-straight championship.

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