Christian Horner makes Max Verstappen promise amid Red Bull exit rumours

Max Verstappen has been linked to Mercedes ahead of the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP

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Christian Horner is certain that Max Verstappen will stay at Red Bull until the end of his current contract in 2028, despite rumours linking him to Mercedes following Jos Verstappen‘s explosive argument with the team principal.

Horner continues to deny any wrongdoing after being cleared of an investigation into accusations of ‘inappropriate and controlling behaviour’ by a female Red Bull employee, who’s since been suspended from the team.

However, the story continues to dominate Formula 1 headlines at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and Horner was asked whether he expects Verstappen to see out his deal with the team.

“I’m certain that he will, he’s got a great team around him,” Horner told the media in Saudi Arabia. “He’s got great faith in that team. And, we’ve achieved an awful lot together so you know, he’s committed to an agreement until 2028.

Bahrain GP 2024 winner Max Verstappen and Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner celebrate | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Bahrain GP 2024 winner Max Verstappen and Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner celebrate | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“I’m obviously aware of the comments that were made. There was a discussion subsequent to the race and I think everybody’s focus is very much on the future.

“The team’s focus is very much on defending both of these world titles that we’ve fought so hard to achieve, Max‘s three successive world titles – to build on that. The 55 victories that he’s achieved, the 114 victories that as a team we’ve achieved and now sit tied with Williams on the amount of grand prix victories.

“And from a team side – from Max‘s side – we’re determined to build on the success that we’ve achieved already and those 55 victories have all come in Red Bull cars, all of the podiums have come in Red Bull Racing cars and we’re determined to you know, build on that and hopefully many more in the future.

“So our focus is very much on the future. And, as I say discussions took place took place following the race in Bahrain and we’re all looking forward.”

Jos Verstappen drew the battlelines following the Bahrain GP by publicly calling for Horner to exit Red Bull, before it transpired he’d had a row with the team boss earlier in the weekend and then apologised.

He’s not in the paddock in Saudi Arabia but that hasn’t slowed the rumour mill down at all, with reported meetings between Verstappen‘s representatives and Mercedes with the Dutchman apparently able to leave Red Bull if Helmut Marko also departs despite signing a contract until 2028.

Jos at least is clearly looking to push a ‘Horner goes or Max does’ narrative but the reigning triple-world champion himself has always stressed he wants to be in the car that gives him the best chance of winning in F1.

Jos Verstappen talks to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner in the pitlane during 2020 F1 pre-season in Barcelona | Charles Coates/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Jos Verstappen talks to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner in the pitlane during 2020 F1 pre-season in Barcelona | Charles Coates/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Will Horner stay at Red Bull?

It was Red Bull and Horner‘s hope that the topic would be quashed before a wheel was turned in anger at the Bahrain GP. However, the story shows no sign of slowing down as cars hit the track in Saudi Arabia with Lewis Hamilton criticising Red Bull‘s lack of transparency over their handling of the case.

Hamilton added that he’s disappointed with his rival team and urged everyone in the sport to hold themselves accountable for their actions.

And it’s unclear what the next step will be if Max Verstappen doesn’t force a move though. F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem met in Bahrain to discuss what their next step on the matter could be, but there’s been no further announcement.

And Ben Sulayem has his own off-track issues to deal with, as an anonymous whistleblower has accused him of overturning Fernando Alonso‘s penalty in the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP – a decision that awarded the Spaniard a podium – and pressuring officials to not certify the Las Vegas GP track.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, and previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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