Scandals that rocked F1 as Christian Horner’s Red Bull future hangs in balance… from pit romps to driver TOLD to crash

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THE world of Formula One has been sent into a spin after shocking allegations were levied against Red Bull Racing chief Christian Horner. 

The 50-year-old, who is married to ex-Spice Girl Geri Horner, has been accused of “inappropriate” and “incredibly controlling behaviour” by a female former employee.

GettyRed Bull Racing chief Christian Horner’s career is said to be hanging in the balance[/caption]

GettyDriver Max Verstappen with the Red Bull Racing boss Horner at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix[/caption]

Details of the allegations are yet to surface but Horner, who’s been with Red Bull Racing since 2005, has flatly denied claims and vowed to “clear his name”.

Earlier this week, the energy drinks firm launched an independent investigation and said they would “take these matters extremely seriously”.

Horner’s career hung in the balance on Friday as he sat down for a D-Day grilling with a senior trial lawyer, hired by Red Bull GmbH, to defend himself in an unknown central London location.

Sources said the investigation would centre on the employee’s concerns about Horner’s strict work regime and does not relate to any sexual impropriety.

Horner has overseen a huge period of success for the racing team – winning multiple F1 championships with Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen – and now loyalists claim insiders are trying to oust him.

It’s the latest of a long line of scandals to afflict the motorsport world. From cheating claims to serial womanising, here, we report some of the most shocking. 

Spygate

AP:Associated PressNigel Stepney leaked confidential Ferrari documents[/caption]

In 2007, the F1 world was shaken in the wake of the now-infamous ‘Spygate’ saga.

It resulted in McLaren receiving an unprecedented and eye-watering $100million fine and being thrown out of the 2007 constructors’ championship. 

The scandal followed Ferrari chief mechanic Nigel Stepney stealing nearly 800 pages of confidential technical information from the company and giving them to his friend Mike Coughlan, who was the Chief Designer at McLaren.

Stepney was exposed after asking his wife to copy the secret documents at a local photocopy shop, in Woking, and a worker informed Ferrari.

It cost both men their jobs and led to Ferrari taking legal action against Coughlan, who reached an agreement with the racing giant. 

Following the uproar, an investigation from McLaren found none of the documents “had been passed to any other members of the team or incorporated into our cars”.

However, when new evidence was produced, McClaren was disqualified from the championship and served the record-breaking fine. 

That year, the battle between Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton led to Kimi Raikkonen sweeping in and claiming the 2007 title.

Crashgate 

YouTubeNelson Piquet Jr deliberately crashed his car to help his teammate[/caption]

EPAPiquet Jr initially denied any foul play before confessing a year later[/caption]

Just one year later, another sporting scandal emerged when Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr deliberately crashed to give his teammate an advantage.

On lap 14 of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, Piquet Jr drove into the circuit wall at turn 17 leading to the safety car being deployed.

It allowed his fellow Renault driver Alonso, who made an early pitstop, to take the lead while other motors pitted under safety car conditions. 

The move allowed Alonso, who started 15th on the grid, to win the race. 

At the time, Piquet Jr claimed his crash was a “simple mistake”, However, after being dropped by Renault in 2009, he revealed bosses Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds had instructed him to do it. 

Briatore was handed a lifetime ban from holding any position within an F1 team and Symonds, who confessed, was banned for five years. It was later branded ‘Crashgate’.

Sex drive

GettyRenowned womaniser James Hunt reportedly bedded more than 5,000 woman[/caption]

Getty – ContributorThe F1 racer died of a heart attack aged 45[/caption]

During his racing days, James Hunt was known as F1’s biggest playboy and was photographed with an army of glamorous women. 

Among the slew of salacious claims is that the Surrey-born racer bedded 33 flight attendants in a fortnight and was greeted by “a fresh supply of females” every morning.

His then-McLaren teammate Alastair Caldwell recalled: “James would bounce up to them in his shorts and bare feet, say, ‘Hello, I’m James Hunt,’ and take them straight upstairs for a party. This happened every day for a fortnight.”

James would bounce up to them in his shorts and bare feet, say, ‘Hello, I’m James Hunt,’ and take them straight upstairs for a party. This happened every day for a fortnight

Ex-F1 racer Alastair Caldwell

Ahead of the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix, he was caught romping with a woman in the pit garage just minutes before the race began. 

James – who had “Sex, Breakfast of Champions” embroidered on his overalls – finished third in the race but won the title that year.

The racer, who died from a heart attack aged 45 in 1993, spent six years in F1 until 1979 and reportedly bedded 5,000 women.

‘Deliberate’ crashes

EPAMichael Schumacher was among F1’s most talented drivers[/caption]

YouTubeSchumacher’s car went airbourne after trying to cut up rival Hill in 1994[/caption]

YouTubeHe crashed and Hill’s car was pitted and retired from the race[/caption]

Michael Schumacher is known for being one of F1’s greatest ever drivers – but he was also tarred with claims of cheating. 

Among them are ‘deliberate’ crashes including during the 1994 Australian Grand Prix, when rival Damon Hill, for Williams, was one point behind him. 

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During the race, Schumacher went off the track and hit a wall side-on.

When Hill began to gain on him at the next corner and was set to pass him, it’s claimed the German racer cut him off.

Christian Horner’s life and career

CHRISTIAN Horner is among the most well-known names in Formula One having helped build Red Bull into one of the biggest teams in the sport.

1973 – Born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

1991 – Wins a Formula Renault scholarship after impressing in karting races

1993-1997 – Competed in a host of competitions including British Formula Three, British Formula Two, and Formula 3000

1997 – Founded and developed the F3000 team Arden

1999 – Retired from driving and continued developing the Arden team

2005 – Appointed head of Red Bull team, becoming the youngest ever team principal at that time

2009 – Wins his first races as team principal with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber

2010 – Wins the Constructors’ Championship and Drivers’ Championship with Vettel – the first of four doubles in a row

2013 – Has a daughter with ex-wife Beverly Allen shortly before the couple split

2014 – Gets engaged to Spice Girls member Geri Halliwell

2015 – Marries Halliwell in Woburn, Bedfordshire

2017 – Horner and Halliwell welcome their son

2021 – Wins another Drivers’ Championship with Max Verstappen, pipping Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the season

2022-23 – Red Bull win the Drivers’ Championship and Constructors’ Championship two years in a row

Both vehicles collided, sending Schumacher airborne before hitting a wall. Hill tried to continue the race but was pitted and retired after irreparable damage to the vehicle’s front left suspension wishbone.

Due to neither driver scoring, Schumacher took the title – much to the fury of fans. 

Schumacher denied deliberate foul play and an investigation ruled it was a racing incident and took no further action. 

Hill deliberately avoided becoming embroiled in the outcry but in later years accused Schumacher of deliberately driving into him.

In a F1 Racing magazine interview, technical director Patrick Head said: “We at Williams were already 100 per cent certain that Michael was guilty of foul play.” 

However, he said the team decided not to take action due to dealing with the death of Ayrton Senna that same year.

Another incident during the final race of the 1997 European Grand Prix followed.

Schumacher was found to have rammed William-Renault rival Jacques Villeneuve as he tried to overtake him on the inside. 

YouTubeSchumacher colliding with Villenueve’s car in 1997[/caption]

EPASchumacher ended up stalled in the gravel after ramming Villeneuve[/caption]

However, it caused Schumacher to drift off into the gravel where his vehicle came to a halt and Villeneuve – who was just one point behind his opponent – managed to cross the finishing line in third place. 

An FIA investigation found Schumacher was at fault for the crash and stripped him of his second-place finish in the championship.

Schumacher was also accused of dirty tactics while trying to fend off Fernando Alonso during the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix qualifiers.

The German racer had set the fastest time but during the closing stages stopped his car in the Rascasse corner, blocking part of the track. 

YouTubeSchumacher was found to have stopped at Rascasse corner to stop his rival getting a better time[/caption]

It prevented Renault racer Alonso from attempting to improve his time. Schumacher insisted it was an innocent mistake and his vehicle had stalled. 

Furious Renault boss Flavio Briatore referred to the so-called mistake as “f***ing disgusting!”

He added: “How can a seven-times world champion make a simple mistake like that? Of course it wasn’t a mistake!”

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Three-time Monaco winner Sir Jackie Stewart said the move was “not an accident” and was “too obvious”. He noted there was “plenty of time to sort things out”.

Later, stewards discovered Schumacher’s vehicle ‘lock-up’ happened while he was driving under 10mph. He was penalised by being sent to the back of the starting grid and Alonso promoted to pole position.

Watergate

Strict rules around weight have long been in place in F1, but in 1982, companies including Brabham, Williams and McLaren hatched a clever plan to get under the minimum allowance.

Their cars were fitted with large water tanks to ‘hold water coolant’ – it would transpire that the liquid was being jettisoned early into races to make them lighter.

Dumping all of the water allowed some vehicles to race as much as 50kg underweight, which gave them a clear advantage.

Before the vehicles’ post-race inspection, they would be topped up with coolant again – returning them to the mandated weight. 

At that year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, Brabham’s Nelson Piquet and Williams Keke Roseberg claimed first and second place.

It was deemed to have contravened the ‘spirit’ of FIA regulations and both of the drivers were disqualified.

It led to Prost being awarded the win and was later referred to as ‘Brakesgate’.

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