Jos Verstappen vs Christian Horner: A feud dating back to 2016

Jos Verstappen publicly warned Christian Horner is tearing Red Bull apart after the 2024 Bahrain GP

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Christian Horner has had a busy several weeks since the announcement that he was under investigation by Red Bull GmbH for inappropriate conduct, as it has also emerged that Jos Verstappen isn’t a fan of the team principal either and here’s why.

Following the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix, the father of Max warned the scandal would tear the team apart. But, despite the apparent sudden turn on Horner, Verstappen hasn’t liked the 50-year-old for eight years.

He added that there is further tension as Horner remains in his position with the backing of the Red Bull GmbH company and expects to see at least the remainder of this season out, despite a Google Drive being leaked which contained screenshots of the alleged conversations between himself and the relevant female employee, something Horner denies.

“There is tension here while he [Horner] remains in position,” Jos Verstappen said in Bahrain. “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.”

Whilst Verstappen’s comments were certainly out of the blue, the disdain he feels towards Horner was anything but and is something that dates back to the 2016 Formula 1 season almost 3000 days ago.

The feud relates to Max Verstappen’s decision to sign with Red Bull in 2016 after spending just over one season with the junior Toro Rosso (now RB) team as he replaced Daniil Kvyat for the Spanish Grand Prix, which he went on to win after both Mercedes cars crashed out.

Max Verstappen and Jos Verstappen ahead of 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen and Jos Verstappen ahead of 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Although Horner is the boss of the team, it wasn’t actually him who got to make the decision. That fell to Helmut Marko as he brought forwards Verstappen’s debut at Milton Keynes from 2017, partially to repel ongoing legal action from Mercedes and Ferrari.

However, Horner lacked faith in the 18 year old from the Netherlands and wasn’t keen on the idea of a teenager in his cars, at least prior to the 66-lap race and it’s something that his father has never let go, even in the face of their overwhelming success together since, according to Motorsport-Total.com.

Max Verstappen backs his father

The debacle has actually placed Max Verstappen in an uncomfortable position where he has to choose between personal relationships or his own professional career with his opinion/decision carrying significant weight within Red Bull.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner talks with star driver Max Verstappen in the garage during free practice ahead of the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner talks with star driver Max Verstappen in the garage during free practice ahead of the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

On the one hand is his father and Marko, who are unaligned with Horner, and on the other hand is his career at the team that has won 40 of 46 races since 2022, prior to the 2024 Australian GP.

But the Dutchman has managed to sit on the fence somewhat. Whilst he declared his father “is not a liar”, he also said that “it doesn’t matter who is involved in the team or not,” although he did insist a good environment is key.

If he decides to quit Red Bull due to the ongoing saga, Mercedes are currently the frontrunners to sign him as they seek their replacement for Lewis Hamilton, who leaves to join Ferrari from 2025 onwards.

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