Max Verstappen may be the clear favourite for a fourth straight Formula One championship, but Paul di Resta does not see Red Bull having it all their own way in 2024.

Verstappen has dominated the sport in the past two seasons after pipping rival Lewis Hamilton to win his first title back in 2021.

The Dutchman was champion by 146 points in 2022, then stretched that gap to a staggering 290 points last year as he won 19 of 22 races.

Di Resta, who drove for Force India, hailed Red Bull's "incredible job" as they "pulled out a couple of wins they shouldn't have", but he expects Verstappen to at least have some competition in the coming campaign.

"People will get closer this year, 100 per cent," Di Resta told Stats Perform. "It's not going to be a runaway like it was.

"But to get on top of that at every grand prix with the advantage that he had at some tracks last year, I don't see how they can lose the championship, to be honest, unless somebody's got something hiding in the wind tunnel that they're going to bring out and surprise everyone with.

"Over the course of the season, I think he'll get the job done.

"I think he'll have a harder time at it, and I'd like to see them more in battle. I'd like to see them up against Lando [Norris], I'd like to see them up against Lewis, Ferrari in there as well.

"The biggest thing is when it's closer, when you're having a bad day, you're having a bad day. When you're having a good day, you're having a good day. The swing was not big enough ever because he was always winning last year."

Mercedes did not win a single race in 2023, but Di Resta sees the Silver Arrows as Red Bull's biggest rivals again in what is set to be Hamilton's final season with the team before joining Ferrari.

"I think it'll be Mercedes," he said. "They've said they're coming out with a car that's very different, very different philosophy.

"They are undoubtedly still one of the best teams in Formula One, and I think just when you look at the last 10 years and how they've gone about their business, you have to believe in that."

Embattled Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is back in the Formula One paddock for qualifying ahead of Saturday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Horner’s future is again in the spotlight after hundreds of WhatsApp messages appearing to be written by him to a female colleague were leaked.

On Wednesday, Horner was cleared to continue as Red Bull team principal following an internal probe into “inappropriate behaviour” by the F1 team’s parent company Red Bull GmbH. He has always denied the claims.

But just 24 hours later, messages and a number of images apparently exchanged between Horner and the complainant were sent from an anonymous email account to 149 members of the F1 paddock – including FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and the grid’s nine other team principals, as well as members of the media – on the eve of this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Horner said in a statement: “I will not 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.”

On Friday, Horner, 50, was seen speaking to a Formula One official at the front of Red Bull Racing’s hospitality suite.

F1 and its governing body, the FIA, are considering whether to get involved in the controversy that’s engulfed the sport.

It is understood that neither F1’s American owners Liberty Media, nor its regulator the FIA, has seen Red Bull GmbH’s report into Horner which is thought to stretch to 150 pages – and was said to be “confidential”.

Third practice begins at 3:30pm local time (12:30pm GMT), with qualifying for Saturday’s 57-lap race due to get under way at 7pm (4pm GMT).

Lewis Hamilton admitted he was shocked to finish fastest in practice for Saturday’s Formula One curtain raiser in Bahrain.

The seven-time world champion has not won a race for more than two years, but he led a surprise Mercedes one-two under the lights of the Sakhir Circuit on Thursday night.

Hamilton finished two tenths clear of team-mate George Russell, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso third.

On yet another explosive off-track day for Red Bull, Max Verstappen bemoaned the handling of his machine. He finished sixth.

The Silver Arrows went under the radar at last week’s test in the Gulf kingdom, but they were quietly optimistic heading into Thursday’s running – and the second session belonged to the team that once dominated the sport.

“This has been a crazy Thursday,” said Hamilton, 39. “I don’t understand it, and it is a shock to see us where we are, but we will take it for now.

“We cannot get ahead of ourselves. We need to keep our head down and keep working on the setup.

“But I am much happier with the car. I have a better feel of it approaching the corners, and there are other areas that have been fixed and improved.

“It feels like a race car and the last two cars didn’t feel like that. It is a really good platform to work from. We have to keep our heads down and keep on chasing.”

Hamilton is gearing up for his final season with Mercedes after he elected to terminate his £100million deal 12 months early to join Ferrari in 2025.

Mercedes have carried Hamilton to six of his record-equalling seven titles. But last year marked a second straight season without a victory for the British driver – a losing streak which now stands at 45 races – and Mercedes’ first winless campaign in a dozen years.

However, Hamilton, in his radically revised car – after the design concept which failed so spectacularly for the past two seasons was abandoned – will take faith from an encouraging day.

But Hamilton expects Verstappen, who has raced to the past three world championships, will still be the one to beat.

“I think we are going to be in the mix,” added Hamilton. “We are there or thereabouts with Ferrari and maybe Aston Martin and McLaren.

“It is going to be close, but if Max is out in front he will drive off as he has done for the past couple of years.”

Verstappen had been regarded as the heavy favourite heading into Saturday’s curtain-raiser in the Gulf kingdom.

But he struggled in the first running and then failed to match the speed of the Mercedes cars later in the day.

“Everything is s***,” yelled Verstappen over the radio. “Like miles off.”

However, the 26-year-old remained confident he would be in a strong position for the 57-lap Grand Prix.

“It is very close and maybe some people around us have turned up the engine in terms of top speed,” he said.

“I’m not too worried about the gap to first, for example. It is going to be close in qualifying. I was happier about the long run for the race.”

Christian Horner’s Formula One future is back in the spotlight after WhatsApp messages appearing to be sent by him have been leaked.

On Wednesday, Horner was cleared to continue as Red Bull team principal following an internal probe by the F1 team’s parent company Red Bull GmbH.

But just 24 hours later, hundreds of messages and a number of images apparently between Horner and the complainant were sent from an anonymous email account to members of the Formula One paddock – including FIA president Mohamed ben Sulayem, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and the grid’s nine other team principals, as well as the media – on the eve of this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

It is unclear at this stage whether the alleged exchanges, which have been seen by the PA news agency, formed part of the investigation – of which Horner was cleared of “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female colleague – or whether it is new evidence.

Horner has always denied the claims.

The PA news agency has approached Red Bull Racing for comment, and is also trying to confirm if the exchanges are genuine.

Horner, 50, was on the Red Bull pit wall on Thursday for both practice sessions.

Speaking on Sky Sports earlier on Thursday, he said: “I am pleased that the process is over, and I cannot comment about it.

“I am here to focus on the grand prix and the season ahead and trying to defend both of our titles.”

Horner added: “I can’t give you any further comment, but the process has been conducted and concluded.

“I am pleased to be here in Bahrain, and with the team, focused on the season ahead. Within the team it (the unity) has never been stronger.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has challenged Formula One and its governing body to demand greater transparency from Red Bull’s investigation into Christian Horner.

Horner has been cleared to continue as Red Bull team principal following an internal probe into “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female colleague.

Horner was on the Red Bull pit wall on Thursday for both practice sessions of the new season.

“I am pleased that the process is over and I cannot comment about it,” he told Sky Sports. “I am focused on the season ahead. Within the team it (the unity) has never been stronger.”

Red Bull Racing’s parent company, Red Bull GmbH, said it was confident the investigation into Horner had been “fair, rigorous and impartial” but added that the report – understood to stretch to 150 pages – is “confidential”.

It is understood that neither Formula One’s owners, Liberty Media, nor its regulator, the FIA, has seen the report.

However, there were growing calls in Bahrain on Thursday night for Red Bull GmbH to share the details of their investigation.

“I just read the statement, which was pretty basic,” said Wolff. “My personal opinion is we can’t really look behind the curtain.

“There is a lady in an organisation that has spoken to HR and said there was an issue and it was investigated and yesterday the sport has received the message that it’s all fine, we’ve looked at it.

“I believe with the aspiration as a global sport, on such critical topics, it needs more transparency and I wonder what the sport’s position is?

“We’re competitors, we’re a team and we can have our own personal opinions or not. But it’s more like a general reaction or action that we as a sport need to assess, what is right in that situation and what is wrong.

“Are we talking with the right moral approach, with the values based on the speculation that is out there?

“As a sport, we cannot afford to leave things in the vague and in the opaque on critical topics like this, because this is going to catch us out.”

McLaren CEO Zak Brown agreed with his Mercedes counterpart.

“It’s the responsibility ultimately of the organisers of Formula One, the owners of Formula One, to make sure that all the racing teams and the personnel and the drivers and everyone else involved in the sport are operating in a manner in which we all live by,” said the American.

“I don’t think it’s the teams’ roles and responsibilities. That’s up to FIA and Formula One to ultimately decide and ask what they feel gives them the level of transparency they need to ultimately come to their conclusion and we just have to count on them that they fulfil that obligation to all of us.”

The PA news agency has contacted Formula One and the FIA for comment.

Horner, who has protested his innocence throughout, was questioned by a lawyer for eight hours earlier this month at a secret London location.

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

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 Dutch driver Max Verstappen setting a new record for 10 consecutive victories as he wrapped up his third title.

Horner, who is married to former Spice Girls singer Geri Halliwell, was awarded a CBE for his services to motorsport in the New Year Honours.

Lewis Hamilton raised hope of taking the fight to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix after finishing fastest in practice.

The seven-time world champion led a Mercedes one-two under the lights of the Sakhir Circuit, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso third and the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz fourth.

World champion Verstappen finished sixth, nearly half-a-second back for Red Bull.

Verstappen had been regarded as the heavy favourite heading into Saturday’s curtain raiser in the Gulf kingdom.

But the Dutch driver bemoaned the handling of his machine in the first running and then failed to match the speed of the Mercedes drivers later in the day.

The Silver Arrows went under the radar at last week’s test in Bahrain, but they were quietly optimistic heading into Friday’s running – and the second session belonged to the team that once dominated the sport.

Hamilton, who has not won a race for two years, was back at the top of the order as the seven-time world champion enjoyed a two-tenth margin to team-mate George Russell, with Alonso 0.286 seconds off the pace.

Red Bull’s preparations for the new season have been overshadowed by claims of “inappropriate behaviour” made against its team principal Christian Horner.

The 50-year-old was cleared to remain in his role on Wednesday following an investigation by the racing team’s parent company GmbH.

But the world champions were surprisingly off the pace in both sessions here. With Verstappen appearing to be in trouble, team-mate Sergio Perez was only ninth in the order.

“Everything is s***,” yelled Verstappen over the radio during the first session. “Like miles off.”

Earlier in the day, Daniel Ricciardo finished fastest.

The Australian – driving for the newly rebranded RB team – saw off Lando Norris by just 0.032secs, with Oscar Piastri third in the other McLaren.

Ricciardo was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2022, but he was handed a lifeline by Red Bull’s junior team midway through last season. He finished 11th in the day’s concluding running.

Daniel Ricciardo was the surprise name at the top of the time sheet in Formula One’s first practice session of the new season in Bahrain.

The Australian – driving for the newly rebranded RB team – saw off Lando Norris by just 0.032 seconds, with Oscar Piastri third in the other McLaren.

Max Verstappen, who complained about the handling of his Red Bull throughout the one-hour practice session, finished sixth, with George Russell seventh and Lewis Hamilton ninth for Mercedes.

Verstappen heads into the curtain raiser here in the Gulf kingdom as the favourite to claim a fourth consecutive world championship.

But the Dutch driver appeared unsettled in the opening running at a gusty Sakhir circuit.

“Everything is s***,” he yelled over the radio. “Like miles off.”

Ricciardo was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2022, but was handed a lifeline by Red Bull’s junior team midway through last season.

And although times in testing have to be treated with caution as the teams trial varying fuel loads – indeed Ricciardo set his speediest lap on the softest tyre compound – RB could prove a surprise package. Ricciardo’s team-mate Yuki Tsunoda finished fourth, three tenths back.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso took fifth spot and was the first of the drivers not to use the soft compound. Verstappen, Russell, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – who finished eighth – and Hamilton also did not post a lap on the speediest rubber.

Hamilton finished four tenths off Ricciardo, but the Mercedes camp are quietly optimistic that they could have the speed to perform at the sharp end.

At the other end of the grid, Alpine and Haas propped up the order with Nico Hulkenberg last of the 20 runners, five seconds off the pace.

The second practice session of the day takes place at 6pm local time (3pm GMT) and is more representative of the conditions the drivers will face in Friday’s qualifying and Saturday’s race.

Christian Horner said Red Bull has “never been stronger” after he was given the green light to remain as team principal.

Horner was in the Bahrain paddock on Thursday morning after he was cleared of “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female colleague.

Speaking on Sky Sports ahead of the opening round of the Formula One season, Horner, 50, said: “I am pleased that the process is over, and I cannot comment about it.

“I am here to focus on the grand prix and the season ahead and trying to defend both of our titles.”

Horner added: “I can’t give you any further comment, but the process has been conducted and concluded.

“I am pleased to be here in Bahrain, and with the team, focused on the season ahead. Within the team it (the unity) has never been stronger.”

Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmbH announced on February 5 that Horner was under investigation following an accusation made against him by a female colleague.

Horner emphatically denied the claim and, on Wednesday, he was cleared of wrongdoing.

Red Bull GmbH said it was confident the investigation had been “fair, rigorous and impartial”, but added that the report – understood to stretch to 150 pages – is “confidential”.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had called for the investigation to be conducted with transparency but no details of the allegations against Horner were reported. The complainant also has a right to appeal against the verdict.

Addressing the controversy on Thursday, Williams team principal James Vowles said he has to believe Red Bull’s process has been thorough.

Vowles said: “I have a responsibility for Williams, and if anything like that happens here, I would want to make sure we properly investigate it and do a robust process that is clear to the outside world what has happened and what we can do to rectify that.

“I trust that Red Bull have done a strong process and we have to in that circumstance.

“But what I want is us as a sport to be proud that we are sitting on a set of foundations that is one of inclusivity, one of openness and transparency and all I ask in that matter is that we make sure we have faith and trust that all of the organisations are working for the same standards.”

A statement from Red Bull GmbH on Wednesday read: “The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed.

“The complainant has a right of appeal. Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.

“The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned. Red Bull will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards.”

Horner, who has protested his innocence throughout, was questioned by a lawyer for eight hours earlier this month at a secret London location.

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

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 Dutch driver Max Verstappen setting a new record for 10 consecutive victories as he wrapped up his third title.

Horner, who is married to former Spice Girls singer Geri Halliwell, was awarded a CBE for his services to motorsport in the New Year Honours.

Team principal Christian Horner was with his Red Bull team in Bahrain on Thursday morning after he was cleared of “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female colleague.

Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmbH announced on February 5 that Horner was under investigation following an accusation made against him by a female colleague.

Horner emphatically denied the claim and the 50-year-old – who arrived in Bahrain on Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s opening race of the season – has been cleared of wrongdoing.

Red Bull GmbH said it was confident the investigation had been “fair, rigorous and impartial”, but added that the report – understood to stretch to 150 pages – is “confidential”.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had called for the investigation to be conducted with transparency but no details of the allegations against Horner were reported.

Horner has made no public comment. The complainant also has a right to appeal against the verdict.

A statement from Red Bull GmbH read: “The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed.

“The complainant has a right of appeal. Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.

“The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned. Red Bull will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards.”

Horner, who has protested his innocence throughout, was questioned by a lawyer for eight hours earlier this month at a secret London location.

During the internal probe, he continued to be present for official Red Bull activities – including a car launch in Milton Keynes earlier this month, where he insisted it was “business as usual”, and pre-season testing in Bahrain last week.

Horner flew back to England as he awaited his fate before heading back to the Gulf kingdom on a private jet on Wednesday.

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

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 Dutch driver Max Verstappen setting a new record for 10 consecutive victories as he wrapped up his third title.

Horner, who is married to former Spice Girls singer Geri Halliwell, was awarded a CBE for his services to motorsport in the New Year Honours.

Team principal Christian Horner is expected to be on Red Bull’s pit wall for practice in Bahrain on Thursday after he was cleared of “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female colleague.

Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmbH announced on February 5 that Horner was under investigation following an accusation made against him by a female colleague.

Horner emphatically denied the claim and the 50-year-old – who arrived in Bahrain on Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s opening race of the season – has been cleared of wrongdoing.

Red Bull GmbH said it was confident the investigation had been “fair, rigorous and impartial”, but added that the report – understood to stretch to 150 pages – is “confidential”.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had called for the investigation to be conducted with transparency but no details of the allegations against Horner were reported.

Horner has made no public comment. The complainant also has a right to appeal against the verdict.

A statement from Red Bull GmbH read: “The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed.

“The complainant has a right of appeal. Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.

“The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned. Red Bull will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards.”

Horner, who has protested his innocence throughout, was questioned by a lawyer for eight hours earlier this month at a secret London location.

During the internal probe, he continued to be present for official Red Bull activities – including a car launch in Milton Keynes earlier this month, where he insisted it was “business as usual”, and pre-season testing in Bahrain last week.

Horner flew back to England as he awaited his fate before heading back to the Gulf kingdom on a private jet on Wednesday.

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

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 Dutch driver Max Verstappen setting a new record for 10 consecutive victories as he wrapped up his third title.

Horner, who is married to former Spice Girls singer Geri Halliwell, was awarded a CBE for his services to motorsport in the New Year Honours.

Christian Horner will continue as team principal of the Red Bull Formula One team after he was cleared of “inappropriate behaviour”.

Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmbH announced on February 5 that Horner was under investigation following an accusation made against him by a female colleague.

Horner emphatically denied the claim, and the 50-year-old – who arrived in Bahrain on Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s opening race of the season – has been cleared of wrongdoing.

Red Bull GmbH said it was confident the investigation had been “fair, rigorous and impartial”, but added that the report – understood to stretch to 150 pages – is “confidential”.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had called for the investigation to be conducted with transparency – but no details of the allegations against Horner were reported.

Horner has made no public comment. He is expected to be on Red Bull’s pit-wall in Bahrain for practice on Thursday. The complainant also has a right to appeal the verdict.

A statement from Red Bull GmbH read: “The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete, and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed.

“The complainant has a right of appeal. Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.

“The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned. Red Bull will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards.”

Horner, who has protested his innocence throughout, was questioned by a lawyer for eight hours earlier this month at a secret London location.

During the internal probe, he continued to be present for official Red Bull activities – including a car launch in Milton Keynes earlier this month – where he insisted it was “business as usual” – and also pre-season testing in Bahrain last week.

Horner flew back to England as he awaited his fate before heading back to the Gulf kingdom on a private jet on Wednesday.

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

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 Dutch driver Max Verstappen setting a new record for 10 consecutive victories as he wrapped up his third title.

Addressing the controversy surrounding Horner, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said earlier on Wednesday: “We always have to do more to try to make the sport and the environment for people to work in feel safe and inclusive.

“Any allegations have to be taken very seriously. We don’t know everything that has gone on but it needs to be resolved because it is hanging over the sport.

“It will be interesting to see how it is dealt with, and the effect that it may or may not have on the sport moving forward. It is a really important moment for the sport to make sure that we stand true to our values.”

Horner, who is married to former Spice Girls singer Geri Halliwell, was awarded a CBE for his services to motorsport in the New Year Honours list.

Verstappen said before Horner had been cleared of any wrongdoing: “He is very important otherwise he wouldn’t have been in that position for such a long time.

“Everyone is focused on what happens on track and we are in a good mood to get going again.”

Christian Horner will continue as team principal of the Red Bull Formula One team after he was cleared of “inappropriate behaviour”.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the key questions surrounding the controversy which has rocked Horner, Red Bull, and the sport.

What were the accusations against Horner?

On February 5, Red Bull Racing’s parent company GmbH confirmed Horner was under investigation following an accusation of “inappropriate behaviour”. The company said it “takes these matters extremely seriously and the investigation will be completed as soon as practically possible”.

Horner denied the claim – made by a female colleague – and remained as team principal and CEO of the Milton Keynes-based team. It is understood the complainant also continued in her role.

How did Red Bull react?

Horner was questioned by a lawyer for eight hours at a secret London location. There was no immediate resolution and Horner subsequently appeared at Red Bull’s car launch on February 15.

He continued to dismiss the allegations. Horner then headed to Bahrain for last week’s three-day test before returning to England, while Red Bull’s Austrian board met to discuss his future.

What was the verdict?

On the eve of this weekend’s curtain raiser – and 23 days after it emerged Horner was under investigation – Red Bull GmBH said the grievance against the 50-year old had been dismissed.

The corporation said it was confident the investigation had been “fair, rigorous and impartial” but added that the report, understood to stretch to 150 pages, is “confidential”.

Is this the end of it?

That remains to be seen. Red Bull said the complainant has “a right of appeal”. It is unclear at this stage whether she will pursue any further action. Horner is due to be on the Red Bull pit-wall for practice on Thursday.

What does it mean for Max Verstappen?

Despite the controversy, the Dutch driver will head into Saturday’s curtain raiser as the favourite to win his fourth world championship.

Speaking before it had been confirmed Horner would remain as team principal, Verstappen said: “He (Horner) is very important otherwise he wouldn’t have been in that position for such a long time.”

Christian Horner will remain in his post as Red Bull team principal.

Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmbH announced on February 5 that Horner was under investigation following an accusation of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague.

Horner emphatically denied the claim and the 50-year-old, who arrived in Bahrain on Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s opening race of the Formula One season, will stay on as team principal of the British team.

A statement from Red Bull GmbH read: “The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete, and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed.

“The complainant has a right of appeal.

“Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.

“The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned. Red Bull will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards.”

Horner fully co-operated with the investigation, having been questioned by a lawyer for around eight hours earlier this month at a secret London location away from the team’s Milton Keynes headquarters.

During the internal probe, he continued to be present for official Red Bull activities – including the new car launch in Milton Keynes earlier this month, and also pre-season testing in Bahrain last week.

Asked whether he had considered temporarily stepping aside until the conclusion, Horner stressed it was “business as usual”.

He said: “Obviously, I fully deny any accusations that have been made against me, but of course I’ll work with that process, which I hope is concluded in the near future.”

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

Under Horner’s leadership, he has overseen seven drivers’ world championships and six constructors’ titles at the British-based F1 team.

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

Christian Horner will remain in his post as Red Bull team principal.

Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmbH announced on February 5 that Horner was under investigation following an accusation of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague.

Horner emphatically denied the claim and the 50-year-old, who arrived in Bahrain on Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s opening race of the Formula One season, will stay on as team principal of the British team.

A statement from Red Bull GmbH read: “The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete, and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed.

“The complainant has a right of appeal.

“Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.

“The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned. Red Bull will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards.”

Lewis Hamilton has called the imminent verdict on Christian Horner’s Formula One future an “important moment for the sport to make sure that we stand true to our values”.

Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmbH announced on February 5 that Horner is being investigated following an accusation of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague. Horner denies the claim.

The embattled Red Bull team principal is due to arrive in Bahrain for the first race of the season on Wednesday.

A verdict on whether he remains as Red Bull team principal is expected to follow.

“We always have to do more to try to make the sport and the environment for people to work in feel safe and inclusive,” said Hamilton as he addressed the controversy for the first time ahead of Saturday’s curtain raiser in the Gulf kingdom.

“Any allegations have to be taken very seriously.

“We don’t know everything that has gone on but it needs to be resolved because it is hanging over the sport.

“It will be interesting to see how it is dealt with, and the effect that it may or may not have on the sport moving forward.

“It is a really important moment for the sport to make sure that we stand true to our values.”

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