Christian Horner is at the centre of a vicious Red Bull civil war, his allies claim – with the firm’s German managing director at loggerheads with the son of the firm’s Thai billionaire co-founder over the Brit’s future.
The 50-year-old husband of former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, 51, has been accused of ‘incredibly controlling behaviour’ by a female colleague – although he denies the claims and an investigation is underway.
Allegations relating to Horner were flying around within the sport over the weekend, ahead of the new season starting next month. But they are flatly denied by the father-of-two and no evidence of that nature has been established.
A subtext of the row is the tug of war between the team Horner runs in Milton Keynes and the parent company in Salzburg, Austria – with both rival centres divided by a difference of outlook dating back to Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz death in October 2022.
The £21.8billion magnate was a friend of Bernie Ecclestone – who recommended Horner, then making a name for himself as the boss of Arden in Formula 3000 and looking for a break into Formula One.
Christian Horner, 50, the husband of former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell , 51, has been accused of ‘incredibly controlling behaviour’ by a female colleague. They’re seen at the Monaco GP last year
Horner with Chalerm Yoovidhya, the leader of Red Bull’s Thai contingent, and its team consultant Dr Helmut Marko in Monza, Italy in September
Bernie Ecclestone recommended Horner. He is friends with Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz
Red Bull managing director Oliver Mintzlaff is said by an insider to want Horner to depart
Ecclestone and Horner quickly became close friends, with Horner acting as best man at Ecclestone’s third wedding.
This duty was reciprocated when Horner moved into a higher realm of fame through his marriage to Ms Halliwell.
‘Christian is closest to the old school of bosses I used to know,’ Ecclestone once told the Mail, also suggesting his pal as a successor to the sport’s ringmaster, a notion blown out of the water when American conglomerate, Liberty Media, bought the sport in 2017.
Since Mateschitz’s death aged 79, Red Bull has been less obviously ruled by an overarching figurehead – with key figures jostling for position.
One of those is Oliver Mintzlaff, the managing director and former boss of RB Leipzig.
Referring to the German, a Red Bull observer said: ‘Mintzlaff wants Horner to depart, not least because he has become too senior and too expensive for their liking. But the Thais on the main board aren’t so sure.’
The Thai contingent is headed by Chalerm Yoovidhya, son of Red Bull’s co-founder Chaleo, along with Mateschitz. Chalerm.
As an heir to the company fortune, Yoovidhya is estimated to be worth some £30billion.
He remains a Horner loyalist, having turned up to race weekends, including to see Verstappen clinch the title in Qatar in October.
Another significant figure is Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s 80-year-old motorsport adviser — an Austrian believed to be more in line with Mintzlaff’s outlook than Horner’s.
‘Marko was given a contract renewal last year, but he saw his money halved,’ said a well-placed F1 figure yesterday.
There is the notion that he wants his revenge on Horner, and wants him out.’
It comes as a friend of Geri Halliwell told MailOnline she was ‘devastated’ by the allegations against her husband.
MailOnline understands the accusations surrounding the husband of Spice Girls singer relate to claims of wrongdoing made by a team employee.
Horner who is expected to remain in the job he has held since 2005 while the internal investigation is carried out, said: ‘I completely deny these claims.’
Horner with David Beckham on the grid at the Miami Grand Prix in May 2022
Christian Horner, pictured with Prince Harry before the Texas Grand Prix in October last year
Horner and Halliwell meet then-Prince Charles at a Prince’s Trust event in London in 2019
Halliwell and Horner arrive for the 2023 Bafta Film Awards in London on February 19 last year
A statement from Red Bull Austria – the Austrian energy drinks firm which owns the F1 team – confirmed a probe was ongoing. It said: ‘After becoming aware of recent allegations, the company initiated an independent investigation. This investigation, which is already underway, is being carried out by an external specialised lawyer.
‘The company takes these matters extremely seriously and the investigation will be complete as soon as practicable. It would not be appropriate to make any further comments at this time.’
Confirmation of the probe today follows 36 hours of denials from the team based in Milton Keynes of any alleged wrongdoing. Horner has also described the accusations as ‘nuts’, in a message protesting his innocence to MailOnline.
Horner and Halliwell married in 2015 and have had one child together, Montague, seven.
Halliwell had a daughter Bluebell, 16, with screenwriter Sacha Gervasi in 2005, while Horner shares Olivia, 10, with his ex-partner Beverley Allen.
Horner, who has led Red Bull since their arrival on the grid in 2005, has overseen a period of huge success for the team.
The outfit have won seven drivers’ championships and six constructors championships under Horner.
Last season, Red Bull won 21 of the 22 races on the calendar as Max Verstappen claimed the drivers’ title.
Horner celebrated his 50th birthday in December, with stars in attendance including Ronnie Wood and Sir Rod Stewart.
Take That singer Gary Barlow was also seen tapping away at the piano as the rest of the guests serenaded him with choruses of happy birthday, while R&B singer Jade Jones was seen posing for a picture with the Red Bull chief.
Horner was also presented with a three-tier birthday cake which read ‘World Champion’ – having won six Constructors’ Championships.
Horner and Halliwell in a holiday photograph taken on an unidentified beach over Christmas
Geri Halliwell called her husband ‘an amazing man’ in a post to mark his 50th birthday
The Spice Girls star said she is ‘really grateful’ to have Christian Horner as her ‘best friend’
Famous faces from the sporting world also went to the party, with Bernie Ecclestone seen enjoying the festivities alongside his wife Brazilian Fabiana Flosi.
Horner shared an appreciation post on his Instagram after the event, writing: ‘Last night my lovely wife Geri completely surprised me with a totally unexpected dinner with some lovely friends. Looks like we’re forming a band.’
Meanwhile, Halliwell took to Instagram to share a series of photos with the following caption: ‘A surprise belated birthday celebration for @christianhorner and the Supergroup! @officialgarybarlow, you’re amazing!’.
She also gushed: ‘You are my best friend. I love you more than words can say and I’m so grateful that you’re in my life. I think you’re an amazing person, you’re kind, you’re loving, you’re generous.
‘I’m just really really grateful and I just want to wish you the best, this new chapter in your life, just brilliance. You’re an amazing man and I just want to wish you happy, happy birthday. I love you.’
Last month MailOnline exclusively revealed that Horner and Halliwell had submitted plans to build a swimming pool at their Grade II-listed mansion.
Planning documents show the couple have applied to install the pool in their garden, alongside new decorative planting and a heat pump to keep the water warm.
In the documents, the couple say the works to the historic family home are being done in an effort to modernise the grounds – as they hope to ‘enhance’ its ‘unique character’.
Miss Halliwell threw her husband Horner a surprise 50th birthday party in December last year
Celebrities from the sporting world and music world collided for his 50th birthday party – with the likes of Rock n’ Roll legends Ronnie Wood and Sir Rod Stewart see in attendance
Horner was also presented with a three-tier birthday cake which read ‘World Champion’
Horner joked they should start a new band after Gary Barlow was seen singing on the night
The 40ft by 16ft pool complete with a fountain, topiary, sunbeds and a 6ft-deep end alongside their greenhouse and to the side of the main home, the plans show.
Many of the documents were submitted on January 2 – days after Horner was named in the New Year’s List for services to motorsport following another victorious season at Red Bull.
But its position in the existing 18th century vegetable garden has been criticised by heritage experts due to a ‘high chance of buried remains’ being found during the excavation.
While senior conservation officer Mandy Lumb said the proposal would not affect the listed building, she said: ‘Given the excavation will be in close proximity to the existing house and potentially over remains of the former house there is a high chance of buried remains; the advice of the Archaeological Advisor should be sought on this matter.’
Last month MailOnline exclusively revealed that Horner and Halliwell had submitted plans to build a swimming pool at their Grade II-listed mansion
The 40ft by 16ft pool complete with a fountain, topiary, sunbeds and a 6ft-deep end alongside their greenhouse and to the side of the main home
Plans of the existing gardens show topiary and vegetable patches where the pool would be put in
She added that the outbuilding, where the plant is set to be housed, should be repaired as part of the plans.
And she criticised the Horners for not applying for planning permission for a brick wall and a series of covered seating areas, which she deems ‘unauthorised’ unless the couple can get permission.
It comes just a year after the couple applied to expand their mansion with a whole new floor as the planning application stating they need more room for their ‘growing family.’