Max Verstappen dragged into Horner scandal, could leave Red Bull!

Max's father Jos Verstappen has told friends the three-time F1 world champion may not stay at Red Bull with Christian Horner as team principal


The Formula 1 paddock is swirling with speculation and intrigue as tensions within Red Bull have come to light, potentially forecasting a seismic shift in the team’s future and driver lineup as Jos Verstappen has reportedly told friends that son, Max Verstappen, could leave Red Bull should Christian Horner remain as team principal. 

At the heart of the controversy is the relationship between Christian Horner and Jos Verstappen, father to triple world champion Max Verstappen, over whom he holds significant influence. 

Horner, who has been at the helm of Red Bull since its inception as an F1 team in 2005, recently underwent an internal investigation following accusations of inappropriate behaviour towards a female colleague. 

Despite being cleared of these allegations, the Google Drive leak of purported communications between Horner and the woman in question has fuelled further controversy and public scrutiny.

Jos Verstappen, a powerful figure in the F1 paddock, given he is the father of one of the sport’s brightest talents, has publicly called for Horner‘s departure.

“There is tension here while he [Horner] remains in position,” Jos Verstappen told the Daily Mail.

“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.”

The situation reached a boiling point during the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, where Red Bull showcased their on-track dominance with a 1-2 finish, yet off-track, the atmosphere was anything but celebratory.

Amid this backdrop, reports have emerged from the Telegraph that Jos Verstappen has told friends his son Max Verstappen would consider leaving Red Bull if Horner remains in charge. 

Jos Verstappen also reportedly had a massive row with Horner on Friday in Bahrain and stormed out the Red Bull boss’ office, only to return and reluctantly shake hands. 

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

Max Verstappen to join Mercedes?

Given the breakdown in relationship between Horner and Jos Verstappen, rumours gained traction following a meeting between Jos and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, a known rival of Horner

This meeting held after the Bahrain GP, coupled with Wolff refusing to outright deny that Verstappn could move to Mercedes in the future, especially in light of Lewis Hamilton‘s impending departure to Ferrari in 2025.

Jos and Wolff were both staying at The Four Seasons hotel and also had a lengthy conversation there. 

That said, Wolff did try to sign Max Verstappen when he was a junior, but given the drivers who were in the Mercedes seats at the time – Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – had long term deals, Max joined Red Bull.

The implications of such a move would be profound, not only for Red Bull and Mercedes but for the entire Formula 1 landscape. Max Verstappen, regarded as one of the sport’s premier talents and a key figure in Red Bull‘s recent dominance, switching teams could alter the competitive balance and fuel further rivalries.

While the discussions and public statements from all involved parties remain speculative, the underlying tension suggests significant changes could be on the horizon for Red Bull

Whether these changes will materialise and how they will impact the team’s structure and future success remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that Formula 1’s off-track drama can be just as compelling and consequential as the on-track action.

John Smith
Editor at and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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