Horner hits back at Dennis

  • Last Updated: April 21 2014, 11:16 BST

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has hit back at McLaren boss Ron Dennis for questioning his organisation's integrity in a dispute over a technical employee.

Christian Horner: Unhappy with Dennis' comments
Christian Horner: Unhappy with Dennis' comments

The two men became embroiled in a tit-for-tat paddock row during the course of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend which appears to be heading for the High Court.

The disagreement surrounds aerodynamicist Dan Fallows, who opted to quit Red Bull in September last year and sign for McLaren.

After being placed on a period of gardening leave, Fallows was due to commence work with McLaren in early March only to be rehired by Red Bull where he has been working for the last two weeks.

That prompted McLaren group chief executive Dennis to launch a tirade against Red Bull, describing the situation as "completely unacceptable".

Dennis made clear he had been left with no alternative but to pursue a High Court action against Red Bull where "very serious questions as to that team's integrity and sense of fair play" would be asked.

On the grid, minutes before the start of Sunday's race, Dennis and Horner were caught engaged in conversation.

Asked as to the nature of their talks, Horner jokingly replied: "He just said 'Happy Easter'."

Pressed on the matter, Horner added: "The situation with Dan is very clear - Dan decided he would leave Red Bull for reasons of his own.

"With the changes that happened at McLaren he decided he didn't want to join.

"He then approached us to see if there was a situation still open, so it was 100 per cent his choice.

"Taking this to the High Court, getting lawyers involved and so on, if that's the way McLaren want to act then that's what will have to be done."

Fallows signed with McLaren at a time when Martin Whitmarsh was team principal and Marcin Budkowski was head of aerodynamics but both have now since left, resulting in the change of heart.

As to Red Bull's integrity, Horner said: "I don't know how (McLaren) can question the integrity of the team. It's the choice of the individual.

"I don't think anybody can be forced to do a job against their will.

"Situations change, as Ron well knows, probably more so than others with the vast amount of experience he has.

"The situation in his team changed, and therefore Dan is with Red Bull, has been with us for the last couple of weeks, and will be there for quite a while to come."

When pointed out Fallows had signed a legally-binding contract, Horner could not resist a dig at Dennis and his team's poor form.

"If you haven't commenced work with someone, then that employment hasn't commenced," added Horner.

"Obviously it's easy for McLaren to be drawing focus away from their bigger issues - it's obvious why they are looking for aerodynamicists.

"I would have thought their focus should be a little closer to home."

Dennis maintains the contract is valid, and that attempts to contact Fallows and Red Bull were "met with stony silence".

Horner had suggested Dennis should have picked up the phone, to which the latter said: "We formally emailed Christian more than two weeks ago asking him about Dan Fallows' whereabouts, so it's a bit rich for him to now say 'Why didn't Ron call me?'.

"Moreover, the point is Fallows has a legally-binding contract with McLaren yet Red Bull chose to ignore that and instead convince him to return to Red Bull."