Daniel Ricciardo flops again as Christian Horner F1 scandal takes explosive new twist

The Aussie driver continued a difficult start to the season amid the dramas engulfing Red Bull.

Daniel Ricciardo has once again failed to fire in practice for the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, amid another explosive twist in the scandal surrounding Red Bull boss Christian Horner. Ricciardo had an underwhelming start to the F1 season last weekend, finishing 13th in Bahrain.

But things have gone from bad to worse, with the Aussie driver finishing 19th out of 20 in practice in Saudi Arabia on Thursday. Max Verstappen was fastest in the first practice session, but Fernando Alonso was quickest after the second practice, with Mercedes driver George Russell second and Verstappen third.

Daniel Ricciardo, pictured here alongside Christian Horner and Geri Halliwell.
Daniel Ricciardo flopped in practice at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix amid a big new development in the Christian Horner saga. Image: Getty

Alonso, a two-time world champion, clocked a best lap of one minute and 28.827 seconds in his Aston Martin to finish two-tenths and three-tenths respectively ahead of the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was fourth ahead of Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull, while Aussie Oscar Piastri was 10th for McLaren.

It marked the second-straight week in which Verstappen was upstaged in practice, although he did manage to qualify fastest in Bahrain and eventually win the Grand Prix. The double world champion is trying to let his driving take some of the spotlight off Red Bull boss Horner, who has been embroiled in scandal for the last few weeks.

Christian Horner's accuser suspended by Red Bull

The situation took another twist on Thursday, with Horner's accuser suspended following the team's investigation into "inappropriate behaviour" against the Red Bull team principal. The 50-year-old Horner, who is married to former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, was allowed to remain in his role after Red Bull Racing's parent company GmbH said last Wednesday that the grievance against him had been dismissed.

The complainant, an employee of the Milton Keynes team, has now 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.

Christian Horner and wife Geri.
Christian Horner and wife Geri at the Bahrain Grand Prix. (ANP via Getty Images)

A Red Bull Racing spokesperson said: "We are unable to comment as it is an internal matter." While Horner, who has continually denied the claims 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." Horner and wife Geri put on a united front at the Bahrain Grand Prix last week after hundreds of messages allegedly sent between Horner and the complainant were circulated.

with agencies

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