Max Verstappen defends father after explosive comments about Christian Horner

Max and Jos Verstappen. Picture: Mark Thompson / Getty Images via Red Bull Content Pool.

Max and Jos Verstappen. Picture: Mark Thompson / Getty Images via Red Bull Content Pool.

Published Mar 7, 2024


Max Verstappen did his best to calm Red Bull's troubled waters and defend his father Jos's integrity on Wednesday, saying "he is not a liar".

Speaking to reporters ahead of this weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the three-time world champion was asked if his father had regrets about his comments suggesting Red Bull might explode if troubled team boss Christian Horner remained.

"I have not asked him that, but my dad, from how I know him in go-karting, is very outspoken and he is not a liar. That's for sure," said Verstappen.

"My dad and I are very close. We call every day."

He also attempted to calm the strife around Red Bull amid speculation linking him with a move to Mercedes for 2025, claiming he was focussed on his racing and not any team divisions.

"I'm the driver, I don't know what's happening higher up," he said. "But from my side, I'm contracted to focus on the performance side of things and that's what I'll focus on this weekend.

"What has been said in Bahrain from everyone is to just leave that behind and hopefully have a quieter weekend here."

Verstappen's close personal team consists of his father Jos, a former F1 driver, and long-time associate Raymond Vermeulen, a duo he has great faith and trust in.

"I don't see myself in F1 without them by my side," he said, adding that he hoped Horner and his father could iron out their differences for the sake of the team.

"I guess he (Jos) clearly felt like that, but from my side, it doesn't matter being on one side or the other side," he said, in relation to the explosive comments from Jos about Horner last weekend.

"As a son of my dad's, it would be weird to be on a different side, but I just want to focus on the performance side of things and have less talk of what we are doing outside of the track than actual performance. We have a great car and look forward to a great year.

"Everyone in general, even if you have arguments or not, there are always things that can be worked out."

Horner said he was "absolutely confident" he would remain boss of Red Bull following Verstappen's crushing victory in last Saturday's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, brushing aside persistent speculation about his behaviour after he was cleared of any misconduct.

An internal investigation into Horner's conduct had been carried out after claims of alleged inappropriate behaviour towards a female team member.

'Danger of being torn apart'

Jos Verstappen was unimpressed by the probe and the outcome.

"There is tension here while he remains in position," he said. "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."

Asked about the impact of the stories last weekend, Max Verstappen said: "I saw a lot of stories about that, which was a bit weird to read, but from my side, what I want -- and it doesn't matter who is involved in the team or not –- is to have a quiet environment where everyone is happy to work."

He added that he intended to see out his current Red Bull contract to 2028.

"Nobody would have seen that Lewis would move to Ferrari," he said. "But you never know in general life what happens, or comes to you, or happens around you or what might influence you.

"So you can never say 100 per cent that that is how it is going to be - and that is the way I approach my life.

"I am very relaxed and very happy at the team - and the performance is there, so there's no reason to leave."