Jos Verstappen: Red Bull could 'explode' if Christian Horner stays as principal

F1 team chief is at the centre of a saga over his alleged behaviour toward a employee

Jos Verstappen, right, with Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner during the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. Getty Images
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The Red Bull Formula One team is at risk of “exploding” if under-fire Christian Horner stays on as team principal, said Jos Verstappen, the father of three-time champion Max Verstappen.

In the lead-up to the new season and at the opening race in Bahrain last weekend, the spotlight has been almost entirely on Horner over his alleged behaviour towards a team employee.

The saga had little impact on Red Bull's performance on the track as Verstappen stormed to victory, with teammate Sergio Perez taking second place, more than 22 seconds behind the Dutchman.

“There is tension here while he remains in position,” Verstappen Sr told the Daily Mail after his son won Saturday's season-opening race in Manama. “The team is in danger of being torn apart. It can't go on the way it is. It will explode. He [Horner] is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems.”

On Wednesday, the team’s parent company dismissed a complaint of alleged misconduct by Horner towards a team employee.

A day later, during practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix, a file alleged to contain evidence against Horner was emailed to nearly 200 people in the F1 paddock, including Liberty Media, F1, the FIA, the other nine team principals and multiple media outlets.

The authenticity of the file, which was sent from a generic email account, has not been verified.

Jos Verstappen, a former F1 driver who was Michael Schumacher’s teammate when they raced at Benetton, has been pointed to as a potential source of the file by some F1 insiders but he firmly denied it.

“That wouldn't make sense,” the 51-year-old Dutchman said. “Why would I do that when Max is doing so well here?”

Horner has denied wrongdoing and said in a statement issued on Thursday that he would not “comment on anonymous speculation” concerning the file.

Reacting to the controversy, the president of Formula One’s governing body told the Financial Times that the controversy around Horner is damaging the sport.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said any complaint lodged with its compliance officer would be investigated but it had not received one related to Horner’s situation.

“It’s damaging the sport,” Ben Sulayem told the newspaper, which added that he was speaking on Friday after a meeting with Horner. “This is damaging on a human level.”

Updated: March 04, 2024, 11:26 AM