Bahrain GP: ‘Pole’ for Verstappen, chicken for Horner | Formula 1 | Sports

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History is mentioned with the Formula 1 World Championship even before the first race of the longest calendar ever is held, with 24 stops and, for the first time, without any change on the grid compared to the previous year. Neither of drivers, nor of teams. After the rollercoaster that Max Verstappen went through in the last two seasons, the busiest winter presents an unexpectedly exciting championship, with much more equality than initially suspected, especially after the only three days of winter training, in which All eyes, once again, went to Red Bull. Despite finishing 2023 with a huge cushion of margin, the technicians, with Adrian Newey at the helm, decided to take a chance without needing to and turned the car around. The first qualifying of this exercise, in Bahrain, made it clear that the new concept works as well as the previous one.

In a final tie that was closer than a priori predictable, Verstappen took first pole, with an advantage of only two tenths over Charles Leclerc, who will share the front row with the Dutchman. Carlos Sainz will start the fourth, while Fernando Alonso will start the sixth. The three tenths that separated the Asturian from the fastest predict that fight that the fans miss so much. “It has been very windy, and in the last two days it was very difficult to do a clean lap. The same thing happened in qualifying,” commented the current champion. “The truth is that I didn’t expect it. Luckily, the car came towards us as the sessions passed. We have to fine-tune some things to find the perfect balance. But the race looks good,” continued the Hasselt runner.

The energy team has gotten the hang of monopolizing the spotlight. Until now it has achieved this exclusively from its cars, the most dominant ever if we take into account the trail of records left by last year’s RB19, and the magic of Verstappen, the spearhead of the project. However, the information attention has moved for a few days towards the offices and the wall of the red buffalo structure. Specifically, the stool of Christian Horner, the director of the Milton Keynes troop (Great Britain), who became the protagonist after an employee of the racing division of the Austrian company accused him of inappropriate behavior. The investigation launched by Red Bull, entrusted to an independent lawyer, was resolved in favor of the British executive, who landed in Manama on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after the conclusions of the investigations were known, to return to his position. with a view to the premiere.

If the way in which Red Bull closed the matter did not convince the rest of the contenders, the paddock came to a boil on Thursday afternoon, 24 hours after Horner’s theoretical acquittal. From several anonymous email accounts, someone sent a dossier with more than seven dozen documents to a minimum of one hundred people, including executives from different teams, members of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and journalists. Without having any certainty about the origin or veracity of the information, or whether the content is part of the material scrutinized by the lawyer, the folder consists of a series of screenshots with alleged conversations between Horner and another person, as well as photos of the Red Bull manager. The fact that the leak occurred only one day after the first verdict leads one to think that whoever is behind it intends to redouble the pressure on the former pilot, and discredit him.

“I will not make any comments regarding anonymous speculation. But I reiterate that I have always denied the accusations,” Horner responded in a statement. “I respected the independent investigation and cooperated fully with it at every step. “It was an exhaustive and fair investigation, carried out by an external specialist lawyer, which concluded by dismissing the complaint filed,” added the 50-year-old Briton, who is married to Geri Halliwell, one of the members of the pop group Spice Girls.

Waiting for reactions, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, president of the FIA, and Stefano Domenicali, president of Formula 1, scheduled a meeting for this Thursday to address the matter. In this sense, it is worth highlighting that the Federation has a department that ensures the ethics of the competitions it sponsors.

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