Verstappen and Ricciardo offer contrasting views on Horner Red Bull investigation

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are preparing for the 2024 Bahrain GP and the start of the F1 season with Red Bull and RB

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Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo addressed Christian Horner‘s Red Bull investigation in starkly different ways, with Verstappen staying detached and only adding that he trusts the process while the Australian backed his former team principal.

An announcement is expected from Red Bull before the start of free practice for the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix, for the investigation that began in early February after allegations of ‘inappropriate’ behaviour against Horner by a female Red Bull employee.

Ricciardo is preparing for his first full Formula 1 season since 2022 and enjoyed a positive test with RB while Verstappen aims for just his second win in eleven races at the Bahrain International Circuit, and was asked whether the investigation is affecting him.

“It doesn’t. I’m very focused on just the performance of the car and myself,” Verstappen told the media in Bahrain. “Hopefully it will be resolved very soon. It’s a whole team effort that everyone has to stick together and work to more success, so that’s why it’s important to get everything resolved very soon.”

Verstappen was promoted to the team by Horner in 2016 and the pair have seemingly enjoyed a strong relationship that’s netted five world championships since the turn of the decade.

However, Verstappen is also close with Helmut Marko, the other powerful figure at the head of Red Bull who identified Verstappen‘s talents in junior single-seaters and first signed him to their driver academy.

There’s reportedly been friction between Horner and Marko since Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz died in 2022, and Verstappen was asked whether he fully backs his team principal.

“I’m trusting the process, that’s what’s happening right now,” Verstappen added. “But besides that, when you talk about performance, it’s of course very important that everyone sticks together.”

Ricciardo: I feel for Horner

Ricciardo was elevated to Red Bull in 2014 by Horner after impressing lower down the grid, and went on to replace Sebastian Vettel as the figurehead of the team before Verstappen took that mantle in 2018.

Ricciardo departed for Renault, then moved to McLaren for a terrible two seasons but was handed a lifeline by Horner after being axed at Woking for 2023, and the Australian is now gunning for a return to the top team after a positive half-season at AlphaTauri.

Daniel Ricciardo and Christian Horner prior to 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Daniel Ricciardo and Christian Horner prior to 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“Coming into the test, obviously we’re aware of everything going on. But would I say was it an on-track distraction? No, it wasn’t,” Ricciardo said.

“Knowing we have so little time as well, it was really like ‘I need to focus on me, my team, my driving and trying to just start obviously this week as strong as possible’. Honestly for us, we’ve had to really just focus on ourselves and trying to get on with the task.

“Do I feel for him through all of this? Yes. I’ve known Christian a long time, he’s always been great with me so I do hope that there is a fair outcome and resolution soon – hopefully before this weekend, so it’s not really a distraction for him or anyone in the team.”

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, 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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