‘My Dad Is Not A Liar’ – Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen is looking forward to letting his car do the talking this weekend in Saudi Arabia, following the tumultuous events involving Christian Horner that overshadowed the Red Bull team during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Despite the unfolding scandal and the active involvement of his father, Jos, in the apparent power struggle within the team, Max has attempted to maintain a low profile throughout the situation.

“I’m just a driver and I don’t know anything about what happens at the top,” the reigning triple world champion, and first championship leader of 2024, told Sky Italia at Jeddah.

“Whatever was said in Bahrain by anyone, we must put it behind us now.”

26-year-old Verstappen, however, did defend his father – absent this weekend for a rallying event – as “not a liar” following the explosive claim that the Horner saga could bring down Red Bull and even lead to Max heading to Mercedes.

“As far as I’m concerned, I have no interest to take the side of one or the other,” Max added, although adding that he will remain loyal to his father and manager Raymond Vermeulen.

“As the son of my father it would be strange to be on a different side, but for my part I just want to focus on performance,” he insisted.

As for Jos, he told Auto Bild that his rallying schedule “in Europe” will also keep him from more forthcoming grands prix beyond Jeddah.

“That’s been clear for a long time,” said the Dutchman.

Max, for his part, has not even taken a clear position on Horner’s troubles, although he seems comfortable with the idea that the Briton will eventually be ousted.

“For me it doesn’t matter who is on the team,” said Max. “I just want a calm environment in which everyone is satisfied as an employee. We don’t want these distractions race after race, because it’s not good for the team.

“If you have arguments or not, there’s always things that can be worked out.”

It is rumoured that the female staffer at the centre of the storm with Horner has now been sacked, at the behest of Red Bull’s Thai 51 percent shareholder.

“She’s taken on her lawyers,” an insider told the Times newspaper. “People don’t just roll over in these cases.”

As for the rumours that Verstappen really might end up at Mercedes, Max says it’s his “intention” to stay until the end of his contract in 2028, with “the performance of the car” remaining the most important factor.

Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher, however, thinks that if a lid isn’t swiftly put on the team chaos engulfing Red Bull at present, a split cannot be ruled out.

“What is being achieved right now is that the best team that has existed in the last decade, along with Mercedes, is destroying itself from the inside,” he told Sky Deutschland.

“I think Toto Wolff is relatively happy as an onlooker,” Schumacher added. “If Horner holds onto his seat at all costs, he’ll not only damage Red Bull but be responsible if Verstappen does leave the team.

“I think anything is possible at the moment – also that Max won’t even finish the year at Red Bull,” he is also quoted as saying.

Speculation suggests that Horner has no intention of voluntarily quitting, and sees Oscar Piastri – managed by former Red Bull driver Mark Webber – as a good replacement for Verstappen.

“Checo (Perez) would be champion without Max there,” Fernando Alonso mused to AS newspaper. “I think that car is pretty good,” he smiled.

When asked if Red Bull is putting together a contingency plan in the event the team might lose Verstappen, Dr Helmut Marko told Osterreich: “You won’t get any comment from me on that one.

“But the fact is that there is a great deal of trust between myself and Max.”

As for the Horner scandal as a whole, Marko admitted: “A difficult situation. And no more comment from me.

“I’ll only say something more about it once the case is finally concluded.”

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