Getty Images

Despite its dominance over all of Formula One with three-time and defending world champion Max Verstappen at the wheel, Oracle Red Bull Racing has found itself embroiled in an all-consuming controversy to start the 2024 season due to allegations made against team principal Christian Horner. Horner, a 50-year-old British motorsports executive who has served as the team principal and CEO of Red Bull Racing since 2005, has been at the center of an investigation and ongoing allegations that he had acted inappropriately toward a female team employee.

The scandal has put Horner squarely at the forefront of Formula One and beyond, as he is married to former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell while also overseeing a race team that has won 13 total world championships, including seven driver's world championships with Verstappen as well as Sebastian Vettel.

Here is a complete and ongoing timeline of the allegations surrounding Horner, the ensuing fallout from them and their effect on Red Bull Racing as Verstappen seeks his fourth-straight championship.

Feb. 5 -- Allegations surface

Separate media reports, namely from the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, stated that a female employee of Red Bull made allegations about Horner to parent company Red Bull GmbH, alleging that he had engaged in "inappropriate, controlling behavior." The expectation was that Horner was to face questioning from the King's Counsel appointed by Red Bull Austria to investigate the claims that coming Friday.

Horner, for his part, strongly denied the allegations that were made against him.

Feb. 9 -- Horner meets with lawyer

Horner met with the lawyer in charge of the investigation on Feb. 9 in London, a meeting that took place under great scrutiny given a quick turnaround to the launch of Red Bull's 2024 F1 car on Feb. 15 at Milton Keyes. In a statement to The Independent, a Red Bull GmbH spokesperson remained consistent with a previous company statement on not commenting until the investigation was completed.

"The company takes these matters extremely seriously and the investigation will be completed as soon as practically possible," read a statement issued on Feb. 5. "It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."

Feb. 15 -- First public appearance

As Horner continued going about his duties, he spoke publicly on the accusations made against him for the first time at Red Bull's car launch, denying again that he had acted inappropriately toward his accuser while discussing its impact on the team.

"I'm going through a process and fully respect it. For me, it is business as normal and I'm focused on the season ahead," Horner said. "Of course, it is a distraction for the team, but the team are very together."

In the days and weeks that followed Horner's comments, and as Red Bull's investigation dragged on, strong comments on the matter were made throughout the F1 paddock. F1 itself chimed in, saying in a statement that, "We hope that the matter will be clarified at the earliest opportunity, after a fair and thorough process, and we will not comment further at this time."

Criticism of Red Bull's handling of Horner came from Mercedes' Toto Wolff as well as Ford CEO Jim Farley, with Wolff -- Horner's counterpart at Mercedes -- called for "transparency" from Red Bull over specifically what Horner had been accused of. Meanwhile, Farley -- whose company will partner with Red Bull in 2026 to form Red Bull-Ford Powertrains -- also cited a lack of transparency with Red Bull declining to respond to a request for further information, expressing in a letter that Ford was "increasingly frustrated by the lack of resolution or clear indication from you about when you anticipate a fair and just resolution of this matter."

Helmut Marko, an advisor to Red Bull, defended the company's response and claimed on Feb. 20 that they were not to blame for the long duration of the investigation. "They are endeavoring to [have] a fair investigation and then react accordingly," he said.

Feb. 28 -- Horner cleared of wrongdoing

In a statement released by Red Bull GmbH just before the start of the 2024 F1 season, the company announced that its investigation into the claims made against Horner were complete and that the grievance against him had been dismissed. The statement noted that the complainant had a right to appeal the decision.

"Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial," read the statement. "The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned. Red Bull will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards."

One day afterward, Horner returned to the F1 grid for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, telling Sky Sport News ahead of practice that he was "pleased" the investigation was over and could not give further comment on the matter.

"I'm pleased to be here in Bahrain and focused on the season ahead," he said before commenting on the unity of his race team. "Within the team, it's never been stronger."

Feb. 29 -- Horner's alleged WhatsApp activity leaked

Only 24 hours after Horner was cleared of wrongdoing by Red Bull, an anonymous source leaked what was alleged to be texts and photos that had been sent between Horner and his accuser to prominent F1 officials such as FiA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali and the sport's other team prinicpals, as well as members of the media. The materials were contained within a Google Drive including 79 documents, some of which were of a sexually suggestive nature, but The Independent noted that their authenticity could not be verified.

Horner reportedly met with Sulayem and Domenicali prior to the third practice of Grand Prix weekend, and later told reporters that he would not comment on what he called "anonymous speculation from unknown sources." Horner oversaw the season-opening Grand Prix, which was won handily by Red Bull's Max Verstappen, alongside his wife Geri Halliwell.

March 3 -- Max Verstappen's father criticizes Red Bull

In spite of Red Bull maintaining its support of Horner, Max Verstappen's father and former F1 driver Jos Verstappen broke rank and made scathing comments in which he claimed the team would be torn apart if Horner was allowed to continue in his position. In drawing a line in the sand, the elder Verstappen denied that he had been the source of the leaks, telling the Daily Mail that it didn't make sense for him to do so given his son's success driving for Red Bull.

"There is tension here while he remains in position. The team is in danger of being torn apart," Verstappen said. "It can't go on the way it is. It will explode. He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems."

In response to the elder Verstappen, a Red Bull spokesperson denied any internal issues and maintained that the team's focus was on racing. Caught in the middle of the ordeal, Max Verstappen defended his outspoken father, telling the UK-based Press Association that the veteran of 107 F1 starts from 1994 to 2003 was "not a liar, that's for sure," but also said that he has no reason to leave Red Bull.

March 7 -- Red Bull suspends Horner's accuser

On Thursday ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, The Independent and other outlets reported that Red Bull has suspended, with full pay, the female employee who had accused Horner of inappropriate behavior. While the decision was said to have been taken as a result of the findings of the investigation, a Red Bull spokesperson called it an "internal matter" that they could not comment.

Speaking at a news conference, Horner drew a line in the sand and spoke out against what he called an "intrusion" into his family on the part of the media.

"I'm married and have three children, and when that intrusion involves your children, and your marriage -- and I'm very thankful I have a beautiful family and a very supportive wife. I'm the only one who has been named in this," Horner said. "So of course, it's very trying. When there's children involved, family, parents … it's not pretty.

"... The intrusion on my family is now enough. We need to move forward. Obviously there's been an awful lot of coverage surrounding this. But one has to go back to the basis that a grievance was raised, it was investigated, and it was dismissed.

"It's been of great interest to different elements of the media, for different reasons. I think it is time now to draw a line under it."