F1

My dad is not a liar – Max Verstappen defends father amid Christian Horner claim

Verstappen was asked if his father regretted his remarks, which not only cast further doubt over Horner’s future, but of his son.

Max Verstappen (left) arrives with father Jos Verstappen at the Bahrain Grand Prix
Max Verstappen (left) arrives with father Jos Verstappen at the Bahrain Grand Prix Max Verstappen (left) arrives with father Jos Verstappen at the Bahrain Grand Prix (David Davies/PA)

Max Verstappen stood by his father Jos, saying “he is not a liar” following his explosive claim that Red Bull could explode if Christian Horner remains as team principal.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Verstappen was asked if his father regretted his remarks, which not only cast further doubt over Horner’s future, but of his son.

“I have not asked him that but my dad, from how I know him in go-karting, is very outspoken and he is not a liar, that is for sure.

“My dad and I are very close. We call every day.”

Max Verstappen (centre) walks with his manager Raymond Vermeulen (left) and father Jos Verstappen (right) at the Bahrain Grand Prix (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Max Verstappen (centre) walks with his manager Raymond Vermeulen (left) and father Jos Verstappen (right) at the Bahrain Grand Prix Max Verstappen (centre) walks with his manager Raymond Vermeulen (left) and father Jos Verstappen (right) at the Bahrain Grand Prix (AP Photo/Darko Bandic) (Darko Bandic/AP)

Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen met with Horner earlier this week in an attempt to clear the air at the crisis-hit team. Neither Max, nor Jos, were present.

And Verstappen added: “I don’t see myself in F1 without them (his father and manager) by my side.”

Horner said following last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix – won by Verstappen – that he was “absolutely confident” he would stay on as Red Bull boss for the remainder of the season.

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

But Verstappen’s 51-year-old father said following last weekend’s toxic race in the Gulf Kingdom: “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.”

Christian Horner and wife Geri ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix
Christian Horner and wife Geri ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix Christian Horner and wife Geri ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix (David Davies/PA)

Asked if he can stay at Red Bull with Horner still in his role, Verstappen replied: “Well we are at the moment. I saw a lot of stories about that, which was a bit weird to read.

“But from my side, what I want and it doesn’t matter who is involved in the team or not, it’s to have a quiet environment where everyone is happy to work.”

However, the intra-team fighting at the grid’s all-conquering team has led to speculation that Verstappen, who has won 18 of the past 19 races, could quit Red Bull for Mercedes.

Verstappen said it was his intention to see out his Red Bull contract, which runs until 2028 but also left the door open to Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton set for Ferrari next year.

“Nobody would have seen that Lewis would move to Ferrari,” he added. “You never know in general life what happens, or comes to you, or happens around you or what might influence you, so you can never say 100 per cent that that is how it is going to be and that is the way I approach my life.

“But I am very relaxed and very happy at the team and the performance is there, so there is no reason to leave.”

Verstappen Snr will be absent here as he participates in a Belgian rally. Horner will be afforded his right to reply in a press conference alongside four other team principals on Thursday.

Lewis Hamilton was managed by his father, Anthony, in the early part of his career before they split in 2010. Their relationship took years to repair.

Asked about Verstappen Snr’s comments, Hamilton said: “He is not a part of the team, he is a parent, so it is definitely not helpful.

“I don’t know about his relationship (with his father). You obviously hear things here and there. But Max is a grown man and he is a champion and he can make his own decisions.

“In our world as driver, it is very easy to be misled by people whispering in your ear and perhaps guiding you the wrong way.

“I am not saying that is the case there because they are doing a great job, but in sport, other athletes that I have spoken to – and I have experienced it – if you don’t have the right guidance around you that can sometimes lead to wrong decisions and not being able to be the best at what you do. When business is involved it is difficult.”