F1

Jos Verstappen warns Red Bull risks being ‘torn apart’ if Christian Horner stays

Horner said he is ‘absolutely confident’ he will stay on as Red Bull team principal for the remainder of the season after the opening race in Bahrain.

Christian Horner and wife Geri pictured after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix .
Bahrain Grand Prix – Race – Bahrain International Circuit Christian Horner and wife Geri pictured after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix . (David Davies/PA)

Christian Horner’s leadership has been cast into fresh doubt after Max Verstappen’s father, Jos, claimed Red Bull is “in danger of being torn apart” if the under-fire team principal remains in his role.

A defiant Horner said on Saturday night that he is “absolutely confident” he will stay on as Red Bull boss for the remainder of the Formula One season after overseeing Verstappen lead a one-two finish from team-mate Sergio Perez at the opening round in Bahrain.

Horner’s job has faced intense scrutiny in recent weeks following allegations against him made by a female colleague. Horner has always denied the claims.

But speaking to the Daily Mail newspaper, Verstappen Snr added further fuel to the fire when 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.”

During an extraordinary week in Bahrain, Horner was exonerated by Red Bull Racing parent’s company, Red Bull GmbH, following an internal probe into allegations of “inappropriate behaviour”.

But hundreds of WhatsApp messages, appearing to be exchanged between Horner and the complainant, were then leaked to the F1 world.

Verstappen Snr has been accused in some quarters of attempting to oust Horner from his job.

But the 51-year-old father of Red Bull’s three-time world champion continued: “That wouldn’t make sense. Why would I do that when Max is doing so well here?”

The PA news agency has approached Red Bull Racing for comment.

Christian Horner and wife Geri in the pit lane after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix .
Bahrain Grand Prix – Race – Bahrain International Circuit Christian Horner and wife Geri in the pit lane after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix . (David Davies/PA)

Horner strode hand-in-hand with wife Geri in the paddock one hour and 45 minutes before Saturday’s race.

Red Bull’s majority shareholder, Thai billionaire Chalerm Yoovidhya, also joined the duo on the team’s terrace in a public show of support for Horner.

Speaking after the chequered flag had fallen, Horner was asked if he is confident he will stay on as Red Bull team principal for the rest of the season. He replied: “Absolutely. Absolutely.”

He continued: “I have the support of an incredible family, an incredible wife, an incredible team and everybody within that team.

“And my focus is on going racing, winning races, and doing the best I can.

“It was a day about starting the season in the best possible way. My focus is on this team, my family, my wife and racing.”

Horner was also quizzed about the leaked Google file which was sent from an anonymous email account to 149 members of the F1 paddock – including FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem, F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali and the grid’s nine other team principals, as well as members of the media.

Horner said: “I am not going to comment on anonymous speculative messages from an unknown source. I am not going to comment on what motives whatever person may have for doing this.

“Obviously, it has not been pleasant with some of the unwanted attention, but the focus is very much on the cars and my focus has been on what is happening on track and the result today demonstrates where the focus is and we move onwards.

“There was a full, lengthy internal process that was completed by an independent KC and the grievance that was raised was dismissed. End of. Move on.”

Horner is set to be back in the spotlight in just four days when the cars hit the track in practice for the next round in Saudi Arabia.