Daniel Ricciardo under fire for speaking on Red Bull boss Christian Horner ‘sext’ scandal that has rocked F1

Samantha Rogers
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Daniel Ricciardo has been criticised for comments he has made about the F1 scandal involving Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner.
Daniel Ricciardo has been criticised for comments he has made about the F1 scandal involving Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner. Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Daniel Ricciardo is under fire for his most recent comments on the Red Bull “sext” scandal that has rocked Formula One.

The Aussie F1 superstar, who sits behind the wheel of sister team Visa CashApp RB (formerly Alphatauri) prompted outrage when he referred to the saga involving Red Bull boss Christian Horner as “noise and distractions”.

It comes after revelations overnight that the woman at the centre of the scandal was suspended by Red Bull ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

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The woman had accused Horner of inappropriate behaviour.

However, the allegations were dismissed by the team’s independent barrister-led investigation. The woman elected not to appeal the verdict and no criminal allegations have been made.

Just hours later, hundreds of “sexually suggestive” messages allegedly sent by the 50-year-old team principal were leaked.

Horner’s former Spice Girls singer wife Geri Halliwell is standing by her husband and was pictured affectionately embracing Horner at Bahrain Grand Prix at the weekend

While champion Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has on numerous occasions elected not to speak out in support of Horner, Ricciardo raised eyebrows with his take.

But Verstappen’s father Jos has chimed in causing an earlier furore this week when he said Horner should resign. Verstappen was forced to defend his father’s intervention but saying he was not a “liar.

Christian and Geri Horner after Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen won the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday.
Christian and Geri Horner after Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen won the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday. Credit: David Davies - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

The 34-year-old, speaking on the opening day of the grand prix, told TV networks, that he hoped the situation will “slowly go away”.

“Right now there is a lot of noise and distractions, there’s no doubt,” Ricciardo said.

“The way they performed last week… you would think for them to be able to still focus on business on track, that is a big strength of theirs.

“So, yeah, hopefully these things start to slowly go away, and they can just focus on being a race team.

“But of course, for the drivers as well it’s not always easy, but I think they did. A good job in handling this.”

Formula 1 figure Matt Bishop said Ricciardo’s comments were ill-advised.

“I think his problem is that he isn’t interested in media work so he doesn’t pay much heed to media advisers,” the former McLaren a Aston Martin official posted online.

“But he should do, because ignoring them damages him reputationally.”

The complainant against Horner, an employee of the Milton Keynes team, has been suspended on full pay.

She is believed to have received a legal letter at the beginning of this week, and now has five working days to appeal the outcome of the investigation which has cast an enormous shadow over Red Bull and the sport.

A Red Bull Racing spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment as it is an internal matter.”

Horner, who has always denied the claims made against him, said in a press conference on Thursday: “I am afraid I can’t comment on anything that is confidential between an employee and the company.

“There is a grievance process that takes place in any company and that process is confidential between the individuals and the company itself.

“So even if I would like to talk about it, I can’t because of those restrictions.”

Horner added: “I am fortunate I have a beautiful family and a very supportive wife. It has been very trying, and very challenging ... the intrusion on my family is now enough. We need to move forward and focus on what we are here for ... which is to go Formula One racing.”

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 07: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 07, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Max Verstappen is trying to ignore the off-track scandal as he defends his F1 title. Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Back on the track Verstappen was fastest in the first practice ahead of Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

However, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was quickest after second practice with Mercedes driver George Russell second and Verstappen third.

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team were fined nearly $25,000 - and the British driver slapped with a warning - following a near “serious high-speed crash” in second practice.

Williams driver Logan Sargeant was forced to take evasive action to avoid hitting the back of Hamilton’s slow-moving Mercedes.

Formula One’s stewards said Mercedes should have informed Hamilton that Sargeant was approaching him on a quick lap.

Earlier Hamilton refused to rule out a Mercedes move for Verstappen, however unlikely it may sound, because his own decision to join Ferrari next season showed anything is possible.

Verstappen has a contract at Red Bull until 2028 but has been talked of as a possible replacement for the seven times Formula One world champion after relations soured between his father Jos and Horner.

“My move has shown that anything’s possible, and it’s going to be a really interesting next six months or so,” Hamilton said.

“I don’t have an extra scoop. I know that... I’m sure Max is on the list, but I’m pretty sure he’s tied up, and also, I couldn’t see why you would leave a car that is that good,” added the Briton.

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