Geri Halliwell and Christian Horner arrive hand-in-hand on the Bahrain Grand Prix grid, as embattled Red Bull Principal puts on public front with his wife amid leaked text message scandal

Photo of author
Written By Maya Cantina
  • Christian Horner was cleared of ‘coercive behaviour towards a female employee’
  • But texts and photos the Red Bull chief allegedly sent were leaked on Thursday
  • His wife, ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, has jetted to Bahrain and will be on the grid 

Geri Halliwell has been pictured for the first time in Bahrain after jetting over from the UK to stand by the side of her under-fire husband Christian Horner amid the Red Bull principal’s ongoing text message scandal.

Red Bull confirmed on Saturday that Halliwell will be on the grid during the Bahrain Grand Prix in a show of solidarity with Horner after a tranche of WhatsApp messages and photographs he allegedly sent to a female employee were leaked.

Horner, who cut a lonely figure as he emerged at the Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday morning, was cleared of ‘coercive behaviour towards a female colleague’ by Red Bull ahead of the 2024 season curtain-raiser. Red Bull launched an internal investigation into the allegations on February 5.

The flirtatious messages allegedly exchanged between Horner and the female complainant were leaked to 149 F1 figures while Halliwell was on the flight to see her husband ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Halliwell, who married the Red Bull team principal in 2015, went ‘into meltdown’ when she touched down in the Gulf state on a private jet on Thursday and discovered the bombshell messages had been plastered all over social media. 

The former Spice Girl arrived hand-in-hand with the Red Bull team boss ahead of the Grand Prix

Throughout the probe and since the messages were leaked, Horner has denied any wrongdoing and was present as the team began the defence of their three successive world titles in qualifying on Friday, with Max Verstappen sealing pole position.

The world champion was 0.228 seconds quicker than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in second, while Mercedes’ George Russell came third and his team-mate Lewis Hamilton had to settle for ninth. 

Both Red Bull and Ferrari shared the lead throughout the three qualifying rounds, with Red Bull undoing the Italian racing team just at the end of Q3, with Leclerc placing second and George Russell finishing strongly to finish third, 0.306 seconds behind Verstappen.

The Dutchman insisted on Saturday morning that he and the rest of the Red Bull team were ‘fully focused’ on the Bahrain Grand Prix and claimed the controversy surrounding team boss is ‘none of our business’. 

Ahead of her flight to the Gulf Kingdom, friends of Halliwell say that they are ‘deeply concerned’ for her and that she appeared ‘fragile’. One friend proposed that the text message scandal has put their marriage ‘in question for the first time’.

But Halliwell’s confirmed presence at the Bahrain Grand Prix indicates a public show of solidarity with Horner, who has insisted throughout that his focus is on racing and getting Red Bull’s world title defence off to the perfect start.

Mail Sport reported on Friday that Halliwell plans to be at Horner’s side on the pre-race grid, alongside his major ally on the Red Bull board, Thai billionaire Chalerm Yoovidhya, who owns 51 per cent of the energy drinks company. 

One insider told Mail Sport ahead of the GP: ‘She [Halliwell] took off before the email landed. I don’t know whether she will be at the race but it will be mayhem if she is.

‘It would be nuts. She may even be flying home.’

Horner’s future at the organisation still remains under threat, despite Red Bull clearing him of wrongdoing earlier this week. 

Geri Halliwell (left) will be on the grid during the Bahrain Grand Prix after jetting over from the UK to hold 'crisis talks' with her husband Christian Horner (right)

Geri Halliwell (left) will be on the grid during the Bahrain Grand Prix after jetting over from the UK to hold ‘crisis talks’ with her husband Christian Horner (right)

Red Bull launched the probe on Horner, pictured alongside Halliwell in Monaco, on February 5

Red Bull launched the probe on Horner, pictured alongside Halliwell in Monaco, on February 5

Horner took up his position in the Red Bull paddock as usual on Friday as Max Verstappen (left) secured pole position for Saturday's race, but also left the pit wall for talks with the FIA

Horner took up his position in the Red Bull paddock as usual on Friday as Max Verstappen (left) secured pole position for Saturday’s race, but also left the pit wall for talks with the FIA

Horner and Halliwell in a holiday photograph taken on an unidentified beach over Christmas

Horner and Halliwell in a holiday photograph taken on an unidentified beach over Christmas

The former Spice Girl cuts a joyful and relaxed figure on the grid at Silverstone in July 2023

The former Spice Girl cuts a joyful and relaxed figure on the grid at Silverstone in July 2023

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the sport’s chief executive Stefano Domenicali and F1 team principals including Mercedes’ Toto Wolff and McLaren’s Zak Brown, as well as journalists, were among the recipients of the email which contained 79 screenshots of messages and photographs allegedly sent by Horner.

Ben Sulayem admitted that the controversy surrounding Red Bull team principal is ‘damaging the sport’. 

The FIA and F1’s owners Liberty Media were weighing up their response to the evidence now in the public domain.

It is not certain if the messages were presented to the Red Bull-led investigation, but it is believed they probably were.

Now, though, Horner is open to a public trial, while the most intense pressure on his role may be presented by the team’s sponsors potentially withdrawing their backing.

Horner, who left the pit wall on Friday to hold crunch talks with the FIA, urged that he would not comment on ‘anonymous speculation’ and stressed that he has ‘always denied the allegations’.

On the day of the leaked WhatsApp messages, Horner’s rival team principals added to the storm and called for the FIA and Formula One to scrutinise Red Bull’s decision.

‘I just read the statement (relating to Wednesday’s decision, after a process Red Bull GmbH described as ‘fair, rigorous and impartial’), it was pretty basic,’ said Mercedes boss Toto 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. 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?’

McLaren CEO Zak Brown added: ‘It’s the responsibility ultimately of the organisers of Formula One, the owners of Formula One, to make sure that all the racing teams, their personnel, the drivers and everyone else involved in the sport are operating in a manner in which we all live by.’

ᴀʀᴛɪᴄʟᴇ ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ

Leave a Comment

ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT ArT