Christian Horner revealed that he was publicly humiliated in front of a group of key players in the motor racing industry, when he went to give his now wife Geri Halliwell a kiss – and was rebuffed. The 49-year-old F1 star was left red-faced – but in spite of the apparent rejection, the pair soon went on to fall for each other.
When the Spice Girls first gained fame, Christian was struggling in his career, desperate to be a Formula 1 driver but “not really getting that far”.
Geri and her bandmates were performing around the world at that time, earning strings of Number One hits, and she had become a national treasure for performances in which she donned her famously patriotic Union Jack dresses and matching high top trainers.
Recalling his first ever encounter with Geri, some time after she left the group, Christian recalled that he was rebuffed in no uncertain terms while angling for a kiss on the cheek.
“[Geri] was a guest of Bernie Ecclestone’s in Monaco one year and came down the pit lane,” he explained to the Telegraph of the fateful moment.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis and fellow Formula 1 businessman Eddie Jordan had been standing beside him.
“She gave Ron a kiss on the cheek, and she gave Eddie a kiss on the cheek, so I thought, ‘OK, I’m on for a kiss on the cheek here!'” an embarrassed Christian continued.
However, he was in for an unpleasant surprise, adding: “I went to give her one and she shoved her hand out at me!”
Geri, who was present during his interview, broke into laughter when she heard his account of the story.
In subsequent photos from the Monaco Grand Prix, Geri can be seen posing happily on Bernie’s arm, while Christian, who’d been given the cold shoulder, merely hovered in the background.
Then the pair, who’d first met in 2009, also had a second meeting during a clay pigeon shooting session at Highclere Castle.
However, though their paths kept crossing, Christian and Geri were still not more than acquaintances.
During that second encounter, at a stunning location where Downton Abbey scenes were filmed, she “called him out” over favouritism.
The disapproving former Ginger Spice had accused him of favouring his then driver Sebastian Vettel over Aussie Mark Webber.
Yet eventually, one day they simply fell for one another – and they have now been married for almost a decade.
Yet Christian is adamant that her previous enormous fame isn’t a factor in why he fell for her or opted to tie the knot.
“I didn’t marry Geri because she’s a Spice Girl. I married her because I fell in love with her,” he explained.
That said, he admits he finds her longstanding experience in the fame game an “excellent” asset, as it means she’s able to put his own “controversies” as a public figure “into perspective” for him.
He describes her as a “force of nature”, while she says she can help with “commercial” matters from her position as someone who loves and cares about him.
Christian’s parents had reportedly been unhappy over his break-up with ex-wife Beverley Allen, just months after she gave birth to their daughter Olivia.
Yet he has now revealed that all parties – including his parents, ex-wife and Geri – get on with each other in a “totally harmonious” way.
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