Naomi Schiff speaks of ‘sadness’ after Christian Horner ‘messages to female colleague leaked’

Sky F1 pundit Schiff reacted to the news that WhatsApp texts allegedly from Horner to a female colleague were leaked in Bahrain

Kieran Jackson
Saturday 02 March 2024 08:48 GMT
Christian Horner breaks silence after being cleared of alleged 'inappropriate behaviour'

Sky F1 pundit Naomi Schiff says she is “saddened” by the current saga surrounding Christian Horner, which has “cast a shadow” over the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Horner, the Red Bull F1 boss, 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.

However, just 24 hours later, WhatsApp texts and pictures - some of a sexually suggestive nature - were leaked from an anonymous source to the sport’s prominent figures and members of the media, allegedly showing conversations between Horner and the complainant. The Independent has seen the leaked material, a Google Drive with 79 separate documents, but is unable to verify the authenticity of the content.

Horner’s wife, Spice Girl pop star Geri Horner, has landed in Bahrain ahead of Saturday’s race and Schiff, a former W Series driver and regular on Sky’s F1 coverage, spoke of her “sadness” at the continuing developments.

“I think coming into the first race of the season where there has been so much excitement around it, it’s really a shame this is casting a shadow over the weekend,” she said, prior to qualifying in Bahrain on Friday.

“But at the end of the day, we have to remember it’s an internal, corporate investigation. We don’t have all the information. So we leave it at that.

“At the end of the day it’s also a human story and there is some sadness to all of this. There are people who are going to be affected by this. This matter should not have been dealt with in the way it has been dealt with.”

Schiff’s colleague at Sky, Martin Brundle, also called for the situation to be brought to an “absolute conclusion”.

Naomi Schiff spoke of her ‘sadness’ at the ongoing Christian Horner situation (Getty Images)

It is unclear currently whether the alleged exchanges formed part of the investigation or whether it is new evidence. Horner was present in the F1 paddock in Bahrain on Friday, ahead of the first race of the 2024 season this weekend.

Horner, 50, met with Ben Sulayem and Domenicali on Friday at the Bahrain circuit, and told members of the press in the paddock: “I am not going to comment on anonymous speculation from unknown sources.”

Horner initially responded to the latest development with a short statement on Thursday night: “I won’t comment on anonymous speculation, but to reiterate, I have always denied the allegations. I respected the integrity of the independent investigation and fully cooperated with it every step of the way.

“It was a thorough and fair investigation conducted by an independent specialist barrister and it has concluded, dismissing the complaint made. I remain fully focused on the start of the season.”

Horner is present in the paddock in Bahrain on Friday (AP)

The Independent contacted Red Bull GmbH, Red Bull Racing’s parent company, for further comment to which they replied: “This is a private matter between Mr Horner and another and it would be inappropriate for Red Bull to comment on this.”

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

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.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and McLaren CEO Zak Brown had, earlier on Thursday, called for F1 and the FIA to review the investigation conducted by Red Bull.

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