With the talk in the paddock still very much focused on the Red Bull appeal against Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix, which saw them go up in front of the FIA Court of Appeal last week, Red Bull look set to be going back to court, this time to battle McLaren.
Ron Dennis, the McLaren CEO, confirmed the plans to drag the reigning Champions to court over an employee at Red Bull, who Dennis claims signed a contract with McLaren for 2014 but failed to begin work with the Woking based team and was instead promoted at Red Bull where he currently works. Dan Fallows, the man at the centre of the controversy, was on gardening leave with Red Bull ahead of his move to McLaren before suddenly changing his mind and returning to Red Bull as the Head of Aerodynamics.
Ron Dennis claims that Fallows signed a contract with McLaren for 2014 which Red Bull have breached after, as he claims, they wooed him back with the offer of a more important role in the team.
Speaking to Autosport, Dennis said, “To be honest, that’s completely unacceptable to us. Just days before Fallows’ McLaren start date – and despite having signed a legally-binding contract with McLaren, being on gardening leave from Red Bull, and moving to a new home near Woking – he suddenly informed us that he no longer wanted to work for us.
“The problem was, he had no legal basis on which to make that U-turn because he’d already formally accepted, and contracted himself to our offer of employment. Sadly, it’s now likely that McLaren will have no alternative other than to pursue a High Court action against Red Bull, which will ask very serious questions as to that team’s integrity and sense of fair play.”
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner aired his disappointment at this news, telling the Press Association: “I’m disappointed in Ron’s comments. The matter is now in the hands of the lawyers, but this is something we will defend vigorously. We don’t see there is any case to answer.
“It’s disappointing McLaren has pursued this route. Perhaps Ron would have been better giving me a call.”
Dennis reacted angrily to Horner’s suggestion that he should have given him a call, saying that Horner was formally contacted several weeks ago regarding the Fallows issue.
“We formally emailed Christian Horner more than two weeks ago,” Dennis said, “asking him about Dan Fallows’ whereabouts, so it’s a bit rich for him to say ‘Why didn’t Ron call me?’ now.
“Moreover, the point is that Fallows has a legally binding contract with McLaren yet Red Bull chose to ignore that and instead convince him to return to Red Bull.”
There has been no date set for the court case and, for now at least, Fallows remains with Red Bull.
Image courtesy Red Bull/Getty Images.