You never know when it's coming but when the end comes, that is that. And F1 is no more forgiving than any other walk of life.
For Christian Horner, synonymous with Red Bull since the team's inception, it remains to be seen whether the current allegations he is facing have genuine substance and whether they will lead to his downfall as face, voice and ever-present leader of the reigning constructors' champions - but there's no doubt this is the first time the question of what Red Bull Racing without Horner might look like, has been forced to be considered.
So many people in the history of this sport have appeared too mighty, too important, too iconic to be felled, but it has happened to the likes of Flavio Briatore and Ron Dennis, even Bernie Ecclestone - amongst many others - and Horner might be the latest whose time is up, even with the Red Bull boss appearing to be very much in his prime on the back of the most dominant championship victory in modern F1 history.
Before going any further, it has to be said, what is being reported are merely allegations at this point and that Red Bull, the wider brand not the F1 team, has launched an independent investigation, carried out by an external specialist barrister. It's sensible that the team has responded so expediently.
"The company takes these matters extremely seriously and the investigation will be completed as soon as practically possible," a spokesperson told GPFans.
This article seeks not to pass judgement before the process has reached its completion but, make no mistake, some of the allegations being reported by rival publications are enough to suggest that if there is anything in them, Horner's position - although he currently remains in his position as chief executive and team principal - may become untenable.
Red Bull handover situation would be complex
The big issue it presents though, is that should the team be forced to move on from Horner, the situation would not be an easy one to navigate even for the F1 superpower and branding behemoth that is Red Bull.
Although Red Bull's biggest on-track rivals are likely still reeling from Lewis Hamilton's shock switch to Ferrari for next year, at Mercedes, there is natural pattern of succession, with Bradley Lord the communications chief deputising for Toto Wolff in his absence as the spokesperson at races to the TV crews and James Allison looking after the technical side of things. Of course, James Vowles is currently serving what may prove to be an apprenticeship at Williams as team principal, to take over when the Austrian eventually decides to step upstairs or move on.
But Horner is at the centre of everything Red Bull do on race day, a one-man solar plexus who has powered the team to 113 grand prix victories and six constructors' championships.
He even boasted about his omnipresence towards the end of last year, telling Sky Sports: "I attend every single race. I’ve attended every single grand prix that Red Bull have competed in since 2005. It would be like Alex Ferguson not going to a football match [if I wasn’t at a race].
Then, asked if it is important - as the gaffer - to be seen by the team’s workforce on regular basis, he said: "They do [see me regularly] and if I’m not in the factory, I’m in the office."
Indeed, Horner's ability to do exactly that is what has kept him at the forefront all these years, much like the aforementioned Ferguson did in football. As one of the longest-serving team principals in the sport's history, Horner has not been left behind as the sport has evolved and has continued to ensure his team has remained at the forefront. Even when they weren't quickest, Horner's Red Bull were innovating, sourcing the best talent and looking to build infrastructure for future success.
Now, though, we could be staring at a very sudden end for one of the sport's greats due to an off-track issue. Should that indeed come to pass, Red Bull will have an awful lot of scrambling to do, just to ensure things are ready for Bahrain.
The lesson here is, regardless of how capable the main person in charge is, you always have to be planning for a future when he or she is no longer there - because the future can rush up on you right when you least expect it.
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