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Christian Horner denies allegations of misconduct after trove of leaked nudes and illicit texts emerge simply 36 hours earlier than F1’s opening race

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Lower than a day after System 1 Red Bull Racing stated it resolved allegations of misconduct towards group principal Christian Horner involving a group worker, a file allegedly containing probably incriminating proof towards Horner was leaked to over 200 emails, together with quite a few media shops, Liberty Media, F1, the FIA, and the game’s 9 different group leaders, AP reported.

The 79 paperwork, which had been reviewed by Fortune, consisted principally of screenshots of alleged WhatsApp message exchanges that seem like between Horner and one other individual. The messages embrace photos of meals and snacks, nude pictures of an unidentified man, suggestive exchanges, and what seem like photos of Horner in a number of completely different outfits, together with a jacket and pageboy cap.

In a single alternate, the sender tells the textual content recipient that they’ll make money working from home after leaving their laptop computer on the manufacturing unit. In one other, the sender and the opposite get together seem to maintain assembly plans a secret from somebody named “Geri.” Horner’s spouse is former Spice Lady Geri Halliwell. There are a number of messages asking the textual content recipient to delete their WhatsApp messaging historical past, in addition to a textual content from the opposite get together asking the sender to “cease” after they despatched messages that seem to have been later deleted.

Fortune has not verified the authenticity of the information; neither has ESPN nor the AP, which beforehand reported on the trove of messages and photos despatched from a generic electronic mail account. Horner denied inappropriate habits once more after the alleged messages leaked.

“I gained’t touch upon nameless hypothesis, however to reiterate, I’ve at all times denied the allegations,” Horner stated in a press release learn to journalists by a group spokesman, through AP. “I revered the integrity of the unbiased investigation and absolutely cooperated with it each step of the way in which. It was a radical and honest investigation carried out by an unbiased specialist barrister and it has concluded, dismissing the criticism made. I stay absolutely centered on the beginning of the season.”

Crimson Bull Racing didn’t reply to Fortune’s request for remark.

Crimson Bull launched an inside investigation on Feb. 5 after Dutch newspaper de Telegraaf reported allegations of “inappropriate behavior” towards Horner, who rejected the claims. Horner was cleared of misconduct, and the grievances by a feminine worker had been dismissed.

F1 and Crimson Bull Racing have a historical past of turning a blind eye to inappropriate and even violent habits from large names within the sport. Former F1 driver Jos Verstappen—father to reigning champion Max Verstappen—was convicted of assault in 2000 after fracturing a sufferer’s cranium in 1998. He raced in F1 from 1994 to 2003 and makes frequent appearances within the Crimson Bull storage throughout race weekends. Over a decade later, former driver Adrian Sutil was convicted in 2012 of inflicting grievous bodily hurt, and although he didn’t have a race seat for that season, he returned to the game and drove for Power India the following 12 months.

The information had been launched when Horner was attending a observe occasion for F1’s first race of 2024, which is slated to start lower than 36 hours from time of publishing. The occasion drew over 1.3 million viewers in 2023, a part of the explosion of the game’s popularity within the U.S. lately. F1 has an enterprise worth of $18.6 billion, together with debt, in keeping with Sportico. Its development is partly because of Netflix’s hit docuseries Drive to Survive, through which Horner is a number one character. Crimson Bull is taken into account the benchmark group this season after successful decisive back-to-back group championships. Star driver Verstappen has gained three consecutive drivers’ championships in a row for the group.

Horner performed an instrumental position in Crimson Bull’s success and has helmed the team since its 2005 inception, when the power drink firm purchased the group from Jaguar as a part of its bid to construct a sporting empire—and in the end generate drink gross sales. In its first ten years in F1, Crimson Bull invested $1.2 billion in its eponymous group, which is now valued at $2.6 billion and had an estimated 2023 income of $510 million, in keeping with Forbes. Horner is the longest-tenured group principal within the F1 paddock.

Crimson Bull has won six constructor’s titles, seven drivers’ titles, and over 100 grands prix. It additional prolonged its grasp in F1 in 2005 when it purchased a second group, now referred to as Visa CashApp RB, which generated a further $260 million in income in 2023. The group additionally owes its accolades partly to World Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey, who led the design efforts for all of Crimson Bull’s championship-winning automobiles. Per Sports Illustrated, Newey and Horner have a mutual safety clause of their respective contracts, connecting their fates ought to one depart the group.

The group’s success in F1 has, within the firm’s personal phrases, made its advertising gamble repay. In November, Horner stated Crimson Bull Racing’s success correlated to power drink gross sales, calling the group the “the largest advertising affect that the beverage firm has.” The drink has 13% of the power drink market share worldwide.

“They see it, they’ll measure it. It’s unbelievable the quantity of consumption of Crimson Bull that’s taking place,” Horner told CNBC.

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