Christian Horner has insisted that aerodynamicist Dan Fallows’ decision to rejoin Red Bull Racing was his own and that the technician had not been induced to return to the Milton Keynes squad, as had been suggested by McLaren boss Ron Dennis before today’s Chinese Grand Prix. Horner added that if McLaren “want to get lawyers involved, that that’s what will have to be done”.
In the run-up to the race in Shanghai, Dennis questioned Red Bull’s actions in taking Fallows back as Head of Aerodynamics after the technician had late last year signed a contract with McLaren.
“We’re obviously not happy to be contracting people in a correct and professional way, only to find that those contracts are disregarded,” Dennis told Britain’s Sky Sports television before the race in Shanghai. “What I’m particularly uncomfortable with is that people just don’t change their minds, they induced to change their minds. People being induced to break contracts, it’s just wrong.”
Horner, however, said that Fallows’ decision to return to the Milton Keynes squad had been entirely his own and had been made against the background of “the changes that have happened at McLaren”.
“The situation with Dan is very clear,” said the Red Bull Racing team principal after the race. “Dan decided that he was going to leave Red Bull for reasons of his own but with the changes that have happened at McLaren he decided that he didn’t want to join, and it was 100 per cent his choice to approach us and see if there was a situation still open. So it was his choice. Getting lawyers involved, if that’s the way McLaren want to act then that’s what will have to be done.”
Horner added that the recruitment of Fallows did not bring into question the ethics of Red Bull and that the new aero chief could not be made “to do a job against [his] will”.
“I don’t know how this can question the integrity of the team, as it’s the choice of the individual,” he said. “I don’t think anyone 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. Situations change. The situation in his team changed. Therefore, Dan is with Red Bull, has been with Red Bull for a couple of weeks and will be there for quite a while to come.”
Dennis has suggested that he has an “open mind to discuss anything” and one possible compromise in the dispute could be that McLaren would drop any potential legal action in return for the early release of Peter Prodromou to begin work at the Woking team.
The former Red Bull Head of Aerodynamic’s contract with the Milton Keynes outfit runs until the end of this year and when the announcement of Fallows’ appointment at Red Bull Racing was made a just under two weeks ago, the team announced that Prodromou had been placed on ‘gardening leave’. An early end to that period in the wilderness early might ultimately be McLaren’s goal.