Red Bull’s misogyny in the headlights

  • Post last modified:March 7, 2024
  • Reading time:7 mins read

It’s International Women’s Day (IWD) tomorrow (Friday 8 March), so in the true spirit of championing women’s equality, Formula 1 racing team Red Bull has suspended a women for being – wait for it – “dishonest” (yes, really) because she made allegations against its big boss.

Why let some allegations of inappropriate and controlling behaviour (that have not been tested in a court of law yet) get in the way of having a good, patriarchal time on IWD? At least not when you’re the cis, white, male (and allegedly sex-pest) executive of a major motorsports team.

Red Bull suspends woman over being “dishonest”. Yes, that old chestnut.

In February, a woman working for Red Bull Racing lodged a complaint of “inappropriate and controlling behaviour” against boss Christian Horner. Following an internal investigation, the company cleared Horner of the allegations.

The motorsports business hasn’t made information about the allegations or its internal investigation public. On Thursday 7 March, the mainstream media have now broken the news that Red Bull are suspending the woman who made these allegations.

As BBC Sports reported:

The woman who accused team principal Christian Horner of inappropriate and controlling behaviour has been suspended by Red Bull.

Horner denies the allegations, and Red Bull’s board dismissed the complaint after an internal investigation.

“The company cannot comment on this internal matter,” a Red Bull spokesperson said on Thursday.

BBC Sport has learned the reason given by Red Bull to the employee was that she had been dishonest.

The allegations first came into the public domain early last month.

Red Bull’s board made its decision to dismiss the matter last week after reading a report compiled by what the company have called an independent KC over several weeks.

The company have given no explanation for the decision nor have they revealed what the report contained or the lawyer’s name.

Institutionalised misogyny – just in time for International Women’s Day

Given that Red Bull failed to elaborate its reasons for the suspension, people took to X to call out what looks a lot like institutionalised misogyny. One poster called out other Formula 1 drivers for not speaking up:


Naturally, calling a woman a liar over allegations against a powerful man rightly went down like a lead balloon on the eve of International Women’s Day (IWD):


But don’t worry, as journalist Edward Hardy pointed out, Red Bull is a beacon of women’s equality. Just look – it named some cars after a few of its female employees:

“You make a difference” but don’t speak up about sexism

Red Bull even went so far as to inscribe an empowering pep-talk – in small-print – to all its cherished female staff. It reads: “The incredible women on our team: you make a difference”. We’re sure that’s of great comfort to all women working for Red Bull right now.

Ladies, this company has your back. That is, until you leak messages revealing inappropriate sexual and coercive harassment.

Others highlighted that the suspension is exactly the kind of gaslighting and victim-blaming response from powerful organisations that stop women from being able to speak up against sexism in the workplace:

So happy International Women’s Day 2024. It’s another year that a heavily male-dominated sport has failed at the first lap of its #MeToo moment. If it texts like a misogynist, races like a misogynist, it’s probably a misogynist – or Christian Horner and his sexist motorsports team.

Feature image via Rokt/Youtube screengrab

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