F1

Christian Horner ‘certain’ Max Verstappen will see out his contract at Red Bull

The world champion’s father has claimed the team will ‘explode’ if Horner remained in his role.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner speaks to Max Verstappen ahead of practice (Darko Bandic/AP)
Christian Horner (left) and Max Verstappen Red Bull team principal Christian Horner speaks to Max Verstappen ahead of practice (Darko Bandic/AP) (Darko Bandic/AP)

Christian Horner said he is certain Max Verstappen will see out his contract with Red Bull, despite the ongoing controversy at Formula One’s world championship winning team.

Horner also insisted it is in “everybody’s collective interest to focus on the future” after Verstappen’s father, Jos, claimed Red Bull will “explode” if Horner remained in his role.

Verstappen, who won last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, has been linked with a shock move to Mercedes to replace Lewis Hamilton next season.

Hamilton said on Wednesday that the 26-year-old Dutch driver is on Mercedes’ “list”.

But when asked if he expected Verstappen to see out the remainder of his contract with Red Bull, which runs until 2028, Horner said: “I’m certain that he will. I mean, he’s got a great team around him, he’s got great faith in that team, and we’ve achieved an awful lot together.

“He’s committed to an agreement until 2028, and from a team side, and from Max’s side, we’re determined to build on the success that we’ve achieved already.

“His 55 victories have all come in Red Bull Racing cars and we are determined to build on that and add more wins in the future.”

Verstappen finished first in the opening practice session for this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso topping the time sheets in the day’s concluding running.

Max Verstappen finished fastest in opening practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Darko Bandic/AP)
Max Verstappen Max Verstappen finished fastest in opening practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Darko Bandic/AP) (Darko Bandic/AP)

George Russell was second with Lewis Hamilton eighth in the other Mercedes.

Verstappen ended the day in third, three tenths back from Alonso but such is the superiority of his Red Bull machine he remains the favourite to extend his winning run here on Saturday.

Verstappen Snr is absent from the second round of the championship as he competes in a Belgian rally.

Following his son’s victory in Bahrain, he said: “There is tension here while he (Horner) remains in position.

“The team is in danger of being torn apart. It can’t go on the way it is. It will explode. He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems.”

Horner held clear-the-air talks with Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen a day after Verstappen Snr’s comments were published in the Mail on Sunday.

But Horner, 50, hinted he has not spoken to his star driver’s father since he was made aware of the incendiary remarks.

Horner continued: “I spoke to Jos following the grand prix and obviously congratulated him on his son’s performance. And I think it’s in everybody’s interest, collectively, that we’ve agreed to move on, to focus on the future.

“We both have a vested interest in his son, to provide the best cars for him and to get the best out of him, and he’s started the season in the best possible way. He’s an outstanding talent and hopefully we can continue to provide him with a very competitive car.”