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Santiago High School's Student News Site

Shark Attack

Santiago High School's Student News Site

Shark Attack

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New Season, New Drama

New Season, New Drama
Lukas Raich

Formula One (Formula 1 or F1) is a complex type of motorsport with many technical rules and regulations, and multiple teams compete in numerous Grand Prix worldwide. Ran by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, or FIA, set the rules and enforce them for the teams that compete. In F1, ten teams are privately owned or owned by car manufacturers. Each team has two drivers, so a total of 20 on the grid, and they compete against the other teams to create the best car of the season within the rules and regulations. Competition between the teams is intense, especially between the top three teams: Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull. 

Max Verstappen, left, with Christian Horner, right (REUTERS)

So What’s New?

An intense sport comes with intense drama, and this season is no different. On February 5th, 2024, allegations arose against Christian Horner, the team principal and CEO of Red Bull Racing, for “inappropriate, controlling behavior” towards a female employee. Red Bull announced they were conducting their private investigation but chose not to comment on the situation anymore. Horner denies these allegations and keeps his position as team principal and CEO. Many others, like Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, criticized Red Bull for not being transparent with their investigation. On February 9th, Horner meets with a lawyer, and a few days later, Horner breaks his silence at Red Bull’s car launch, denying the allegations but continues by stating, “I’m going through a process and respect it. It is business as normal for me, and I’m focused on the season ahead.” 

Almost two weeks later, on February 28th, Horner was cleared of the allegations, and Red Bull stated they are “confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.” A day later, an anonymous source released what they said were texts and photos between Horner and the employee who accused him of inappropriate behavior to well-known F1 officials. The source had a Google Drive with around 80 documents that had a sexually suggestive nature, yet the source’s authenticity was not verifiable. Nevertheless, Horner continued with the start of the season on March 2nd at the Bahrain Grand Prix, overseeing his two drivers: Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. Despite Red Bull standing by Horner, Max Verstappen’s father, Jos Verstappen, doesn’t stand behind Horner. Jos Verstappen believes the team would be torn apart if the team continued to stay in his position. 

Ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, on March 7th, it was reported that the female employee who accused Horner of inappropriate behavior was suspended. Red Bull did not comment much about the situation but shared it was an “internal matter.” The suspended employee has launched an appeal to the dismissed complaint, and it has been suggested that the employee file a formal complaint to the FIA. The FIA stated, “As a consequence, and in general, we are unable to confirm the receipt of any specific complaint, and it is unlikely that we will be able to provide further comments on the complaints that we may receive from any parties.”

Max Verstappen, left, and Sergio Perez, right, the two drivers for Red Bull Racing (REUTERS)

Other drivers have commented on the situation, something that many female fans aren’t happy with. One driver, Daniel Ricciardo, said that “there is a lot of noise and distraction” when asked about the Horner situation. Ricciardo was a former driver under Red Bull Racing and has known Horner for a few years. Another driver, Lando Norris of McLaren Racing Limited, commented, “It’s got nothing to do with us for the time being. The investigation is underway; things are happening. And [it’s] something I’d prefer to stay out of now. Simple as that.” These comments from the athletes raise questions from many female fans, as in recent years, the female fan base for Formula 1 has increased from 32% to 40%. These comments prompt questions about supporting and creating a safe environment for other women in the sport. Kate Byrne, one of the founders of Two Girls 1 Formula, believes that “We need to firmly stake our chair to the ground at the table and say: ‘We’re not leaving, and we’re going to force you to be better.’” Byrne elaborates on the accountability many female fans are waiting for, as many believe the allegations are being swept under the rug.

These demands come especially as female drivers continuously join the new F1 Academy, a female-only competition that began in 2022. Formula 1 has been involved with the new Academy by bringing light to it, so these allegations raise the question of “How will they treat their drivers in these kinds of situations?”

All the F1 Academy drivers (F1 Academy)

What Else is Happening?

Alongside the allegations Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner is facing, there is other news involving their star driver Max Verstappen. There are rumors that Verstappen will leave Red Bull Racing and move to Mercedes, one of Red Bull’s main rivals. This rumor comes as news of Mercedes’ main driver, Lewis Hamilton, switching to Forza Ferrari for the next season. 

Will the truth come to light? Will there be a significant driver switch-up on the grid? Hopefully, answers will be given sooner rather than later.

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About the Contributor
Kendall Hutchinson
Kendall Hutchinson, Staff Writer
Kendall Hutchinson (12) is a senior in her first year of journalism. She plans on attending a four year where she’ll study either history or political science. After, she hopes to go to law school and become a lawyer to help people. Kendall enjoys reading different books and even the news, which piqued her interest in helping others. Over the summer Kendall participated in a week-long program that focused on different social issues and how to bring awareness to them. She realizes that her future as a lawyer will be a lot of work but is willing to work for the outcome. Over the summer, she also was able to travel to South Korea and wants to continue to travel after high school, learning about different countries and their cultures around the world. You can contact Kendall at [email protected]
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