Red Bull team principal Christian Horner will be in Bahrain for Formula One’s first day of testing on Wednesday.

The 50-year-old is fighting to save his career in the sport following an allegation of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague. Horner categorically denies the claims.

The PA news agency understands Horner, who remains under investigation by the racing team’s parent company Red Bull GmbH, is due to arrive in the Gulf kingdom on Tuesday evening.

Max Verstappen will take to the wheel of the Red Bull he hopes will carry him to a fourth straight world championship on Wednesday – the first of three days of testing – and Horner is set to be in the paddock to oversee his superstar driver in action.

Horner is also due to speak at an F1 press conference alongside four other team principals a day later.

The opening round of this season’s championship takes place in Bahrain on March 2.

Speaking at Red Bull Racing’s car launch in Milton Keynes last week, Horner insisted he would be in his position for the first race.

Horner said he was unable to provide a timeline as to when the investigation will be completed.

It is understood both Red Bull and Horner are keen for a swift resolution, but sources have indicated that a conclusion is not imminent.

F1 bosses have called for the controversy to be “clarified at the earliest opportunity”.

Last season Red Bull won all but one of the 22 races, with Verstappen taking his third world championship in as many years.

Speaking last week, a defiant Horner said: “The process has been going on in the background.

“Obviously, there’s been a day job to be getting on with, which is gearing up for the season ahead of us.

“I am confident in the process, which I have fully complied with and will continue to do so, and absolutely deny any of the allegations that have been made against me.

“For me, it is business as normal. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”

Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, said it will not comment on Christian Horner’s future until Red Bull’s investigation has been concluded – but added it “remains committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity, fairness and inclusivity within the sport”.

Horner’s role as Red Bull team principal remains in the balance following a claim of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague. Horner emphatically denies the allegations.

On Sunday, F1 bosses called for the controversy to be “clarified at the earliest opportunity”. The new season gets under way on March 2.

A statement from the FIA on Monday read: “In relation to the independent investigation currently being undertaken by Red Bull GMbH, the FIA reiterates that until such time as the investigation has concluded and the outcome is known, we will not be commenting further.

“The FIA remains committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity, fairness and inclusivity within the sport.”

Speaking at Red Bull Racing’s car launch in Milton Keynes last Thursday, Horner, 50, insisted he would be in Bahrain for the opening race.

Horner said he was unable to provide a timeline as to when the investigation by the racing team’s parent company, Red Bull GmBH, will be completed.

It is understood both Red Bull and Horner are keen for a swift resolution and sources have indicated to the PA news agency that there could yet be a conclusion by the end of the week.

However, it is thought unlikely that a verdict will be found before this week’s three-day test in Bahrain which starts on Wednesday.

An F1 spokesperson said: “We have noted that Red Bull has instigated an independent investigation into internal allegations at Red Bull Racing.

“We hope that the matter will be clarified at the earliest opportunity, after a fair and thorough process, and we will not comment further at this time.”

Last season Red Bull won all but one of the 22 races, with Max Verstappen taking his third world championship in as many years.

A defiant Christian Horner said he will not be forced out of Red Bull – and vowed to be in his post as team principal for the first Formula One race of the season.

Horner broke his silence on Thursday after an investigation was launched into an allegation of “inappropriate behaviour” against him by a female colleague.

The 50-year-old, speaking at Red Bull’s car launch in Milton Keynes, revealed he had been “overwhelmed” by messages of goodwill from within the sport, and said his wife, former Spice Girls singer Geri Halliwell, has been “very supportive”.

He also continued to emphatically deny the allegations made against him.

Asked if he will be in Bahrain for the first round of Max Verstappen’s championship defence on March 2, Horner replied: “Yes. I will be in Bahrain.

“The process has been going on in the background. Obviously, there’s been a day job to be getting on with, which is gearing up for the season ahead of us.

“I have a hugely supportive family, a very supportive wife. I have felt the support from within the business and our partners, and the support from within the industry has been overwhelming, too.

“I am confident in the process, which I have fully complied with and will continue to do so, and absolutely deny any of the allegations that have been made against me.

“For me, it is business as normal. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”

Direct questions relating to the internal investigation launched by Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmBH – which leaves Horner’s career in the balance – were strictly off-limits.

Horner has been in charge of the F1 team for two decades, but he insisted the investigation has not forced him to ponder resigning.

“Not at all, absolutely not,” said Horner when asked if he had considered his role as team principal and chief executive of the racing team.

“I am fully committed. I built this team. I convinced people to come and work here.

“I’ve been here since the beginning. There have been highs and lows along the way. We have won 113 races. We have won seven drivers’ world championships. We’ve won six constructors’ world championships in 19 seasons, and that’s in the history books.

“But it’s about what lies ahead, because that’s what’s important. So my focus is on the future.”

There had been a strong desire for Horner’s future to be concluded before Thursday’s presentation which marked the 20th anniversary of Red Bull’s involvement as a constructor in the sport.

Horner, who was quizzed by a lawyer for eight hours last Friday, said he did not know when the probe will be concluded.

There will be three days of testing, starting next Wednesday, in Bahrain ahead of the first race, also in the Gulf kingdom. And sources have indicated Horner could face further rounds of questioning as he bids to prove his innocence.

The investigation against Horner has undoubtedly overshadowed the world champions’ preparations for the forthcoming campaign.

Last year, Red Bull won all but one of the 22 races, with Verstappen taking his third world title in as many years.

But the Dutch driver, 26, said: “I don’t feel it (the investigation) has been a distraction.

“Everyone is very focused and very motivated. The spirit in the team has been fantastic. It’s been honestly better than ever.”

Pressed on his relationship with Horner, the triple world champion added: “It is very good.

“We’ve seen each other quite a few times. We’ve achieved a lot of things together so that doesn’t change suddenly.

“My contact with Christian has been the same as on the first day. It’s been like normal.”

Max Verstappen believes Lewis Hamilton’s swansong season with Mercedes will be “awkward” following his rival’s 2025 transfer to Ferrari.

Hamilton stunned the sporting world by ditching Mercedes – the constructor which has carried him to six of his record-equalling seven world championships – in favour of a move to Ferrari next year.

On Wednesday, the 39-year-old Briton made his first public appearance since news of his shock transfer broke. Hamilton said he is determined to fire Mercedes back to former glories before he trades silver for red.

But speaking at Red Bull’s car launch on Thursday, reigning world champion Verstappen believes Mercedes will be forced to omit Hamilton from some meetings during the forthcoming 24-round campaign.

“For the rest of the year, I would say it’s a little bit awkward,” said Verstappen.

“It’s not like they are suddenly enemies. He has achieved so many great things with them. They are still behind him, and for sure he has a great relationship with everyone, especially (Mercedes team principal) Toto (Wolff).

“But he knows at one point, and Toto for sure will tell him: ‘Look, I know we’ve had all this success, but you can’t be part of certain meetings any more’.

“That is normal in F1. It’s probably a bit weird. But you are professional enough to deal with that. And once he’s sitting in the car, they will of course go flat out for him.”

Verstappen, who last year claimed 19 victories from 22 rounds as he secured his third successive title, also believes Hamilton and Ferrari were forced to reveal the tie-up sooner than they would have wished.

The Red Bull star added: “It must have been leaked to announce something that big that early in the season.

“Him going to Ferrari is not really shocking. It’s not a surprise they were talking. I just think the announcement was a bit rushed.”

Verstappen, who gets his first taste of this season’s Red Bull when testing begins in Bahrain next Wednesday, opens his bid to become a four-time world champion at the first race, also in the Gulf kingdom, on March 2.

Christian Horner will face the media on Thursday as an investigation into an allegation of “inappropriate behaviour” against the Red Bull team principal continues.

The embattled boss is due to attend the world champions’ car launch at their Milton Keynes headquarters in what will be his first public appearance since the accusation by a female colleague surfaced at the beginning of last week. Horner, 50, categorically denies the claim.

For now, Horner remains in his role as team principal and was present at a behind-closed-doors Red Bull test at Silverstone on Tuesday ahead of the new season which starts in just over a fortnight.

Red Bull will unveil their new car on Thursday and Horner is expected to address the media – although the PA news agency understands legalities around the process mean that questions relating to the internal investigation will be off-limits.

Last week, Horner was quizzed by a lawyer for eight hours as part of the probe by Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmBH.

There had been a strong desire for Horner’s future to be resolved before Thursday’s launch but sources have indicated that he could face further rounds of questioning as he bids to prove his innocence.

Horner has been Red Bull team principal since they entered F1 19 years ago and is the longest-serving boss on the grid.

During that period he has overseen seven drivers’ world championships and six constructors’ titles. Red Bull have dominated the sport in recent seasons and last year won 21 of the 22 races, with Max Verstappen setting a new record for 10 consecutive victories.

Lando Norris insists he can take the championship fight to Max Verstappen after declaring the Dutchman’s Red Bull team as “beatable”.

McLaren emerged as the closest contender to Red Bull last year following an impressive mid-season turnaround with Norris scoring seven podiums.

The 24-year-old, gearing up for his sixth season on the Formula One grid, last month committed his future to McLaren by signing a contract extension which will keep him with the British team for at least the next three seasons.

Red Bull won all but one of the 22 rounds last season, with Verstappen cruising to his third world title in as many years.

But speaking at McLaren’s car launch on Wednesday, Norris said: “If you were to ask, ‘are Red Bull beatable?’ I am going to have to say ‘yes’.

“We have to believe that because we were very close at times last year and at certain times we did beat them.

“Can we beat them over a season? That is going to be a challenge and very difficult to do because of how well they performed, but I am optimistic.”

Norris and team-mate Oscar Piastri, who impressed in his rookie campaign last season, were provided their first taste of this year’s machine at a Silverstone shakedown test on Wednesday.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella added: “At the start of the season my expectation of Red Bull is that they will enjoy an advantage.

“I say this because they didn’t develop the car very much last year and I would think it is reasonable to expect that they will have accumulated knowledge and development from last season and bring that to the 2024 car.

“If, and I say if, we continue the development rate from 2023 into 2024, then we can be in a strong position. But whether that is enough to challenge Red Bull and the other top teams who have made improvements, we will find out.”

F1’s sole pre-season test gets under way in Bahrain on February 21, ahead of the opening race, also in the Gulf kingdom, on March 2.

Christian Horner will make his first public appearance on Thursday since an investigation was launched into “inappropriate behaviour” against the Red Bull team principal.

The embattled boss is due to attend the world champions’ car launch at their Milton Keynes headquarters following the accusation by a female colleague which surfaced at the beginning of last week. Horner, 50, categorically denies the claim.

For now, Horner remains in his role as team principal and was present at a behind-closed-doors Red Bull test at Silverstone on Tuesday ahead of the new season which starts in just over a fortnight.

Red Bull will unveil their new car on Thursday and Horner is expected to address the media – although the PA news agency understands legalities around the process mean that questions relating to the internal investigation will be off-limits.

Last week, Horner was quizzed by a lawyer for eight hours as part of the probe by Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmBH.

There had been a strong desire for Horner’s future to be resolved before Thursday’s launch but sources have indicated that he could face further rounds of questioning as he bids to prove his innocence.

Horner has been Red Bull team principal since they entered F1 19 years ago and is the longest-serving boss on the grid.

During that period he has overseen seven drivers’ world championships and six constructors’ titles. Red Bull have dominated the sport in recent seasons and last year won 21 of the 22 races, with Max Verstappen setting a new record for 10 consecutive victories.

Lewis Hamilton is determined to fire Mercedes back to former glories as he gears up for his season swansong before quitting for Ferrari.

Hamilton stunned the sporting world by ditching Mercedes – the constructor which has carried him to six of his record-equalling seven world championships – in favour of a move to their rivals next year.

On Wednesday, the 39-year-old made his first public appearance since news of his shock transfer broke.

Standing alongside team principal Toto Wolff, Hamilton faced just three questions from Mercedes’ in-house moderator in a nine-minute, no-frills and perhaps awkward – given the rawness of the British driver’s decision – car launch.

“The focus through the whole of winter training is getting the team back to where we once were,” said Hamilton.

“We have had these difficult couple of years which have been really grounding for us. It has helped us regroup and really look at things.

“(The last few weeks) have obviously been emotional and it is very surreal to be here.”

Hamilton, who joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013, signed a two-year contract extension only last August. But over the winter he elected to terminate his £100million deal 12 months early.

Last year marked a second straight season without a victory for Hamilton – a losing streak which now stands at 45 races – and Mercedes’ first winless campaign in a dozen years.

They finished an eye-watering 413 points behind Red Bull while Hamilton, third in the individual standings, was 341 points adrift of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen as the Dutchman secured a hat-trick of world crowns.

Wolff metaphorically conceded at the final round in Abu Dhabi that Mercedes will have to scale Mount Everest to topple Verstappen.

But on Wednesday, Wolff said: “This is a complete relaunch of a car. It is very different, not only aerodynamically but underneath the car too.

“There have been so many mechanical changes which we hope will translate into more performance, more predictability and a car the drivers can really push.

“The most important thing is to look inward and what is it that we got wrong? We found some clues, we tried to eliminate as many variables as we could and the buzz in the company is something I have not seen for so many years.

“We know it is a big mountain to climb because if a team is so far ahead like Red Bull were last year then it is not easy.

“But we have a superb driver combination and hopefully a fast car. There are some good ingredients to be back at the front again.”

The Austrian, informed of Hamilton’s shock transfer only a fortnight ago, added: “It will be our last season with Lewis so we are keen on bringing a quick car.”

Hamilton and team-mate George Russell were given their first taste of their new car during a damp shakedown test at Silverstone.

On Thursday, the spotlight will be back on embattled Red Bull team principal Christian Horner as the world champions present their machine for the new campaign.

Horner is under investigation by the Formula One team’s parent company Red Bull GmBH following an accusation of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague.

Last Friday, Horner was questioned by a lawyer for eight hours. He categorically denies the claim.

Horner remains in his role and he will speak to the media on Thursday at the team’s Milton Keynes HQ – although it is understood legalities around the process mean that questions relating to the internal investigation will be off-limits.

F1’s sole pre-season test gets under way in Bahrain on February 21, ahead of the opening race, also in the Gulf kingdom, on March 2.

Lewis Hamilton said it felt “surreal” to be taking part in the final car launch of his Mercedes career.

Speaking publicly for the first time since his blockbuster move to Ferrari for 2025 was confirmed, Hamilton, 39, said: “(The last few weeks) have obviously been emotional and it is very surreal to be here.

“The focus through the whole of winter training is getting the team back to where we once were.

“We have had these difficult couple of years which have been really grounding for us. It has helped us regroup and really look at things.”

Team principal Toto Wolff, standing alongside his soon-to-be departing star driver, added: “It has been a very busty winter. It will be our last season with Lewis so we are keen on bringing a quick car.”

Hamilton, who joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013, won six of his record-equalling seven world championships with the Silver Arrows.

Hamilton signed a two-year contract extension with Mercedes only last August, but over the winter he stunned the sporting world after he elected to end his deal 12 months early and join Ferrari.

Hamilton, who fielded just three questions from the Mercedes moderator during a brief nine-minute launch, added: “I came here in 2013 so 11 years with the team and now I am starting my 12th.

“It is such a privilege to work with a group of people where you see the work they do over the winter and you see a car come together at the beginning of the year and it is the most exciting part of the season.”

Hamilton, without a win in two years, and team-mate George Russell, will get their first taste of this season’s Mercedes during a shakedown test at a wet Silverstone on Wednesday.

Hamilton added: “We have to be diligent, maximise practice and even one lap, George and I might get in the rain today will give us a feeling of what is to come.”

Lewis Hamilton has already been in contact with soon-to-be Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc – as Carlos Sainz, the driver forced to make way for the seven-time world champion, revealed the shock switch came out of the blue.

Hamilton, 39, will leave Mercedes at the end of this year after agreeing a blockbuster move to Ferrari in 2025 – the biggest transfer in Formula One history.

Hamilton is set to make his first public appearance since news broke of his decision to quit Mercedes when the Silver Arrows unveil their new car at Silverstone on Wednesday.

Hamilton will appear alongside team principal Toto Wolff and fellow Brit George Russell.

On Tuesday, Ferrari took the wraps off the contender they hope will allow them to challenge Red Bull and Max Verstappen when the new season starts in Bahrain next month.

But it was Hamilton’s name which dominated proceedings – despite the Ferrari PR machine attempting to restrict questions about their star signing.

Hamilton will partner Leclerc at Ferrari after the Monegasque signed a new long-term contract, understood to run until 2029, just days before the British driver’s move was announced.

“This kind of deal is not finalised overnight, and I was aware of those discussions (with Hamilton) before I signed my deal so it did not come as a surprise,” said Leclerc, 26.

“Obviously, Lewis is an incredible driver, the most successful in history, and he brings a lot of experience to the team.

“I had discussions with Lewis, especially when everything was announced and official. We texted each other.

“He is a great champion with so much success. It is always interesting to have a new team-mate, because you learn different ways of driving and working, and even more so when my new team-mate is a seven-time world champion.”

Ferrari have not won a drivers’ title since 2007, but they hope Hamilton – a winner of a record 103 races – can fire them to that elusive title. Hamilton will be 40 when he makes his transfer from Mercedes.

“It is a huge opportunity for the team and we are sure that Lewis will bring us a decent step for the future,” said Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur, who played a prominent role in Hamilton’s formative career in Formula Two.

“I have had a good relationship (with Hamilton) for 20 years, and we were always in contact speaking about different things. It was not the easiest call of my life (to tell Sainz), but one of the most difficult was with Toto.”

Hamilton’s switch leaves Sainz – the only driver outside of Red Bull to win a race last year – scrambling for a seat.

“I was a bit surprised, like everyone in the Formula One world,” said the Spaniard, 29.

“From my side you can understand I got to know the news a bit earlier than anyone else, and I had some weeks to reflect, prepare and get ready for the car launch and the first race of the season. That gave me a bit of time to digest it and to draw my own conclusions.

“I don’t know the identity of my next team. But there are plenty of options out there.

“I am approaching the most important three or four years of my career and I want to make sure that I am in the right place.”

Carlos Sainz admitted Lewis Hamilton’s shock transfer to Ferrari came out of the blue.

Hamilton, 39, will leave Mercedes at the end of the year to replace the Spaniard in 2025.

Speaking for the first time about the biggest transfer in Formula One history, Sainz said: “I was a bit surprised, like everyone in the Formula One world.

“From my side you can understand I got to know the news a bit earlier than anyone else and I had some weeks to reflect and prepare and some weeks to also get ready for the car launch and the first race of the season.

“That gave me a bit of time to digest it and to draw my own conclusions and to focus on the 2024 season.

“I have had lot of messages of support which I would like to thank the F1 world for and friends back at home, who have been very supportive and very encouraging.”

Sainz, 29, was speaking at Ferrari’s launch as they unveiled the challenger they hope will be able to challenge Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

However, Hamilton’s switch to Ferrari leaves two-time race winner Sainz looking for a seat.

Sainz, the only driver outside of Red Bull to claim a victory last year, said: “My next team, I don’t know yet and I have time to decide when that happens next. There are plenty of options out there.

“I am approaching the most important three or four years of my career and I want to make sure that I am in the right place.

“I am going to listen to all the options so when I take the decision I have give myself enough time with enough information.

“It is completely possible to separate one from the other. I have a good management team that will take care of that so my full focus will be on the first race in Bahrain and I am going to start the season as strongly as I can. The other thing will sort itself out as time goes by.

“The fact that I am not going to be a Ferrari driver in 2025 does not mean we don’t want to become champions together this year or win races.”

Fernando Alonso believes he is an “attractive” candidate to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes – but has denied holding talks with the Silver Arrows.

Hamilton, 39, is entering his final season with the team which carried him to six of his seven world championships after agreeing a shock move to Ferrari in 2025.

Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes will create a vacancy alongside George Russell, while Max Verstappen’s Red Bull team are also due to have a seat available with Sergio Perez’s contract expiring at the end of the season.

Alonso’s two-season deal with Aston Martin is up for renewal in 2025. It is understood the British team are keen to retain the double world champion’s services.

“I am aware of my situation which is very unique,” said Alonso, who won back-to-back world championships with Renault in 2004 and 2005.

“There are only three world champions on the grid and I am the only one available for 2025, so I am in a good position.

“On a move to Mercedes, there has been nothing at all. I know the driver market has started earlier this year, but this will not affect me in terms of preparing for the season.

“If I want to keep racing beyond this year, the first and only talk at the beginning will be Aston Martin. I trust this project and that will be my first priority.

“But if we cannot reach an agreement I know that I am attractive to other teams. I will not stay in Formula One just to have fun. I am not that kind of person and not that kind of driver. Let’s see what the options are.”

Commenting on Hamilton’s move to Ferrari, Alonso, who drove for the Italian team between 2010 and 2014 but fell short of winning the title, added: “It was a surprise, I will not lie, not because the change itself but from the outside it seemed like he was very linked to Mercedes and very loyal to Mercedes.

“Ferrari is a special team but it is more special when you win. Maybe Lewis can bring that extra fight for the championship because the car is there.”

Alonso finished fourth in last year’s drivers’ championship as his Aston Martin transformed from also-rans to frontrunners.

Alonso scored six podiums in the opening eight rounds and might have ended his 10-year wait for victory had his team’s strategy been more on point at the rain-hit Monaco Grand Prix.

The Silverstone-based team’s form fell away in the second half of the year but Alonso continued to out-perform his machinery, taking further podiums in the Netherlands and Brazil.

He ended the year 132 points and six places ahead of team-mate Lance Stroll – son of the team’s fashion billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll – and was voted third, behind Max Verstappen and Hamilton, by his fellow drivers and finished runner-up to Verstappen in a poll of the grid’s team bosses.

Alonso, 43, in July will this season become the first driver to take part in 400 grands prix and the evergreen Spaniard raised the prospect of competing deep into his forties.

He added: “A few years ago I would say 41 or 42 is the limit, but after last year I saw I was motivated, performing well, and I was thinking I could race a few more years.

“Now, this winter, I have exceeded expectations in terms of the physical tests, so if I am motivated and ready to commit, I can race until 48, 49 or maybe even 50.”

Pre-season testing starts in Bahrain a week on Wednesday ahead of the first race, also in the Gulf Kingdom, on March 2.

Fernando Alonso could be the ideal 'short-term fix' for Mercedes as they look to replace Lewis Hamilton, particularly after Lando Norris signed a new long-term contract with McLaren.

That is according to former Force India and Williams driver Paul di Resta, who even believes an ambitious swoop for three-time world champion Max Verstappen is not out of the question.

Seven-time drivers' champion Hamilton has activated a break clause in the two-year contract extension he signed with Mercedes last year, and the 2024 season will be his last with the team before he makes a blockbuster move to Ferrari.

For Mercedes, attention has turned to the candidates to replace Hamilton. Carlos Sainz – who will leave Ferrari to make room for Hamilton at the end of this year – has been touted as a possible target, though other names are also in the frame.

Norris was long thought to be a natural fit if either Mercedes or Red Bull found themselves with an empty seat, but the 24-year-old penned a "multi-year" extension with McLaren last month.

Di Resta thinks Norris would have been the go-to name for Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, but with his future seemingly secure, long-term options appear thin on the ground.

"Where do they go? They found themselves a bit stuck because I think it was unexpected," Di Resta told Stats Perform of Mercedes' driver hunt. 

"When you look at the driver market, I was surprised to see Lando sign with McLaren for as long as he did, given there were Red Bull seats and potentially a Mercedes seat coming up. 

"The obvious choice for me, if I was Toto, would have been to go for Lando. Last year, I actually think he was next-best to Max in terms of the performance and where he was. 

"I think he was a step up even from Lewis over the course of the year, in what he was able to achieve. He had it under control, so that would have been where my attention went. 

"You can see Lando doesn't turn up to odd events and excel, he is very consistent over the course of the year and I think he's ready to fight for championships, but obviously that's gone." 

Some believe Mercedes could promote 17-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli from their junior team, but Di Resta thinks it is too soon for the teenage prodigy, suggesting two-time world champion Alonso – who is contracted to Aston Martin until the end of this year – as an alternative. 

"They need a short-term fix, they probably need a good name," he continued. "I wouldn't be surprised if Fernando fit that bill for the next year or two, until they reassess where they are if they're bringing through some young guys. 

"I've heard people talk about Antonelli, I can't see how he's ready, I can't see if somebody like that is ready to go up against Max and Lewis. 

"With the weight of a manufacturer like that on top of you, you don't want to hit that too hard too soon, you want to build the foundations of how you go about your Formula One racing first."

Di Resta does not expect Mercedes to rush their search for a successor, and he even suggested they could enquire about Verstappen's availability, pondering whether the Dutchman has a similar break clause to that recently activated by Hamilton.

"They've got some time. I don't think it's a decision they can rush into," Di Resta said. 

"At the start of the season, we're already talking about next year, but you never know, you could go and chase Max!

"I'm sure somebody like Max could equally have an option like Lewis had got, because when they are like Lewis, Max and Fernando, they mean as much as the team does."

Winning an eighth Formula One world championship with Ferrari would cement Lewis Hamilton's legacy, but that will be no easy task as the Scuderia go through an overdue rebuild.

That is the view of former Force India driver Paul di Resta, who believes Hamilton's move to Maranello will be "box office" for all F1 fans. 

The upcoming 2024 season will be Hamilton's last with Mercedes, with the seven-time drivers' champion activating a break clause in his contract with the team in order to join Ferrari from 2025.

Hamilton has endured a frustrating couple of years since missing out on an eighth world title – which would have seen him surpass Michael Schumacher for the outright record – to Max Verstappen at the end of a hotly contested 2021 season.

While Di Resta thinks Hamilton is joining Ferrari with the belief that they will offer him a better chance of returning to the top of the standings, he has warned things may not be so straightforward, with the team rebuilding after finishing third in the constructors' standings last season.

"I was surprised," Di Resta told Stats Perform. "For somebody who's been so successful and has driven a car powered by a Mercedes-Benz engine for every lap, for every bit of success he's had… To change that over at this point in your career, I think it's a big thing.

"I think he and Toto Wolff bounced off each other very well. You could see there was one goal, they seemed like they gelled together in the sense of where they wanted to go, to win this eighth title for Lewis.

"I think they set that up well, and it was good to have George [Russell] alongside him as well, who I think pushes Lewis, and I think Lewis excels under pressure. 

"That's the difference with him; when pressure is added, he steps up more than others. But somewhere within this, he's felt uncomfortable, to be persuaded to go to Ferrari.

"They're a team going through a rebuild at the moment, going through a big change in terms of how they go about racing… they had to because they let themselves down on a lot of occasions."

Taking Carlos Sainz's seat after the Spaniard failed to agree a new contract with Ferrari, Hamilton will race alongside Charles Leclerc, who finished second in the drivers' championship in 2022 but dropped to fifth last year.

While Di Resta is certain Hamilton has received assurances from Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur, he says there are no guarantees that the move will work out.

"Lewis has been convinced. He's obviously been given security, he's obviously been given something that's driven him," Di Resta said. 

"I think it's great news for Formula 1, to see him go there. It would be another step up if he wins another title, that would rubber stamp what has already been an incredible career, but it's a big task. 

"He's obviously got to get on top of Charles as well, who's been part of that family for a long time. I'm excited to see it. It could be box office."

Di Resta did, however, admit Hamilton made the right move when leaving McLaren for Mercedes in 2013, noting how his former McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso has failed win a title since leaving Renault in 2007.

"If you look at what Lewis did, going from McLaren to Mercedes, there was a bit of vision there," he said. "I've always said, 'Is it skill or is it luck?' 

"You look at Fernando versus Lewis, Fernando seems to have made the wrong decisions at the wrong times. Lewis has made the right decisions and stepped forward. 

"Mercedes have lost out because it was unexpected, and if you look at what's been promised to Lewis from the Ferrari side, he's going there with a belief that they're going to do it.

"With how it plays out, I think the early days are going to be key to how successful it will be."

Christian Horner’s Formula One career remains in the balance after he was questioned by a lawyer for eight hours on Friday.

The embattled Red Bull team principal, 50, was answering an accusation of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague – a claim he categorically denies.

Horner’s interview took place at a secret London location.

It had originally been diaried for Red Bull Racing’s Milton Keynes headquarters.

But such has been the level of interest in the allegations against Horner, which emerged publicly on Monday, a change in venue was sourced.

Neither Red Bull Racing, who last year helped Max Verstappen win his third world championship, nor its parent company Red Bull GmBH – who are carrying out the investigation – commented about the details of the hearing which the PA news agency understands started at 10am and ran until the early evening.

Red Bull are set to unveil their car for the new season next Thursday, and there had been a strong desire for Horner’s future to be resolved before then.

But sources have indicated that is now looking highly doubtful, with the likelihood of Horner facing subsequent rounds of questioning as he bids to prove his innocence.

Indeed, it is thought the investigation may not be wrapped up before pre-season testing gets under way on February 21, and could rumble on until the opening round in Bahrain on March 2, and possibly beyond.

Horner has been Red Bull team principal since they entered F1 19 years ago and is the longest-serving boss on the grid.

During that period he has overseen seven drivers’ world championships and six constructors’ titles.

Red Bull have dominated the sport in recent seasons and last year won 21 of the 22 races, with Verstappen setting a new record for 10 consecutive victories.

For now, Horner remains in his role, and it is still anticipated that he will attend the team’s season launch in Milton Keynes next week.

A spokesperson for Red Bull GmBH said earlier this week: “After being made aware of certain recent allegations, the company launched an independent investigation.”

It added that “the company takes these matters extremely seriously.”

In response to the allegations, Horner said: “I completely deny these claims.”

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