Max Verstappen’s father: Red Bull could be ‘torn to pieces’ if Horner remains amid controversy

Stay informed on all the biggest stories in Formula One. Sign up here to receive the Prime Tire newsletter in your inbox every Tuesday and Friday.

Rifts within Red Bull Racing appear to have increased after Max Verstappen’s father Jos warned the team was “in danger of being torn apart” if Christian Horner remained in charge amid ongoing controversy surrounding the main team.

Horner remains in the spotlight after a turbulent few days in Bahrain to start the new Formula One season. Although Verstappen took his eighth consecutive Grand Prix victory with a dominant performance, beating teammate Sergio Pérez by more than 20 seconds, his father spoke publicly about divisions within the team as the situation remains the biggest story of this sport.

The situation became public in early February when Red Bull GmbH, the parent company of Red Bull Racing, announced it had launched an investigation into allegations made against Horner of inappropriate behavior, which it said he took “extremely seriously serious”.

On Wednesday, Red Bull announced that the investigation, conducted by an external party, had led to the dismissal of the complaint, noting that the complainant had the right to appeal. The following day, a series of messages purportedly between Horner and the complainant were leaked anonymously to senior F1 officials and the international media. Atleticowho received the leaked email directly, was unable to verify its contents, and Horner repeatedly refused to comment on the messages.

In a interview with the Daily Mail, Jos Verstappen warned: “There is tension here as (Horner) stays in position. The team risks being disintegrated. He can’t go on like this.

“It will explode. “He’s playing the victim when he’s the one causing the problems.”

Chalerm Yoovidhya (centre), whose family owns a 51% stake in Red Bull, joined Christian Horner (second from right) and his wife Geri Halliwell-Horner (right) for the Grand Prix podium ceremony of Bahrain. (ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP)

Jos Verstappen raced in F1 between 1994 and 2003 and was instrumental in his son’s career and success, although he has no formal role in the team. He made similar comments about the controversy in a separate interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, also published on Saturday evening after the match.

Asked about Verstappen’s comments, a Red Bull spokesperson said: “There are no problems here, the team is united and we are focused on racing.”

Tensions rise

Jos Verstappen’s comments publicly put the father of the team’s star driver in opposition to the main team.

He attends the vast majority of his son’s races. Although he is not an employee of Red Bull Racing, his closeness to Max means that he is considered to have some influence. On Thursday he was seen wearing a Red Bull team jacket while watching the second practice session in Bahrain, during which the anonymous email was released.

After the race, Horner said he would “not comment on what motivations, whatever people may have” for the leak.

Jos denied to both the Daily Mail and De Telegraaf that he was involved in the leak, telling the Daily Mail: “It wouldn’t make sense. Why would I do this if Max is so happy here?”

There have been growing signs of friction within the team since the death of Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz in October 2022. Mateschitz was the undisputed leader of the company’s F1 efforts and his absence has led to increased tensions among senior figures within the team. agency.

After the race, Horner stated that he was “absolutely” confident that he will remain in charge of the team and that his “focus is on the season ahead and the races that we have ahead of us” following the completion of the investigation process.

“The complaint raised was dismissed,” Horner said. “End of. “Go ahead.”

He said it was “not pleasant, the unwanted attention”, but spoke of the “amazing support” he felt from within the team and wider Red Bull society.

On the grid before the race, Horner spoke to Chalerm Yoovidhya, son of Red Bull’s co-founder, whose family holds a 51% stake in Red Bull GmbH. Horner and his wife, Geri Halliwell-Horner, were joined by Yoovidhya and his wife to watch the podium celebrations following Max Verstappen’s victory. Jos stood a couple of rows behind them during the ceremony.

Max Verstappen has maintained throughout the investigation into Horner that he is completely focused on what is happening on the track and that the situation has not distracted him from preparing for the new season.

Asked by Atletico After taking pole position on Friday, although he still had full faith in Horner’s leadership, Verstappen said: “When I look at how Christian operates within the team, I see that he has been an incredible team leader.

“So absolutely, from a performance standpoint, you can’t even question it.” Verstappen said he had spoken “a lot” with Horner and that the Red Bull core team was “fully committed to the team”.

His father’s comments, however, will lead to new questions about the dynamic with Horner ahead of the second round of the season in Saudi Arabia in just a few days.

Max is under contract with Red Bull until 2028 after signing one of the longest and most lucrative contracts in F1 history following his first championship success in 2021.

The nature of the ongoing tension at Red Bull led to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff (who has called for transparency in the investigation) to ask whether there was a chance Verstappen could drive for the team for 2025 as a replacement for Lewis Hamilton.

Wolff said: “A driver will always choose the fastest car. That’s basically it. At the moment, Red Bull is the fastest car, so in my opinion it will always be the priority.”

(Main photo of Max Verstappen with his father Jos Verstappen before the Bahrain GP: Clive Mason/Getty Images)