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An email leaked to the paddock on Thursday night with many explicit details allegedly from Christian Horner’s phone reignited the affair surrounding Red Bull’s CEO. The first Grand Prix of the Formula One season opens in a tense atmosphere where competition has taken a back seat.

“There has been a lot of speculation over the past three weeks,” said the boss of rival Mercedes, Toto Wolff. “We are role models and F1 is fighting for equality, inclusion and diversity. This problem affects not just one team, but all of Formula One.”

Wolff’s attack comes as no surprise. The year 2021 and the fierce battle on the track between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen and in the paddock between Horner and Wolff have left their mark. All the more so because the boss of the Silver Arrows has decided to support his champion’s fight for diversity and equality.

Zak Brown, McLaren’s general manager, backed Mercedes’ claims at a press conference where Red Bull’s head of communications sat in the back row, even though his boss was not invited.

Genuine letter or blatant forgery?

“It is up to the FIA and F1 to do their duty,” the American added, putting pressure on the sport’s regulator and owner, who are in a very delicate situation, especially, with this overnight email. This outside attack will inevitably weaken Red Bull. Especially if it takes a while to perfect the innovative RB20 concept, or if the team faces technical problems or reliability issues. It could also distract a team like Mercedes from the pure pursuit of performance. In this duel between the first- and second-tier teams in the latest championship, a third party would then have a chance to take the spoils of this crossfire: Ferrari, focusing on its Car of the Year and assured of its drivers in 2025 (Hamilton-Leclerc duo announced in January).

Last night, owner Liberty, whose directors and all team managers had received a copy of the e-mail, investigated whether the letter was genuine or a blatant forgery.


This post is originally from L’Équipe