Christian Horner holds Max Verstappen manager meeting; more FIA president allegations – F1 news round-up

Thomas Maher
Christian Horner, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, pictured separately at the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Christian Horner and Mohammed Ben Sulayem made the F1 news headlines on Tuesday.

Christian Horner continues to dominate the F1 news headlines as the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix hoves into view, while the FIA President is causing some of his own.

Another day, more revelations and scandals, and some more hefty F1 news headlines to digest before getting stuck into the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend.

Christian Horner meets with Max Verstappen’s manager

With all sorts of speculation floating around that Verstappen might have an exit clause from Red Bull should Helmut Marko depart, and Jos Verstappen calling for his head, Christian Horner met with the Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen on Tuesday.

According to the Press Association, their source claims talks “went well” between Verstappen’s management and Horner in Dubai on Monday, with senior Red Bull team figures also said to be present.

These talks come off the back of a weekend in which Verstappen dominated the on-track proceedings, but the ongoing conversation surrounding Horner was the main topic of conversation away from it.

Read more: Christian Horner holds meeting with Max Verstappen’s manager in Dubai

FIA President finds himself at heart of more allegations.

Following on from yesterday’s bombshell news that Mohammed Ben Sulayem has allegedly been reported to the FIA’s ethics committee over an attempt to intervene over a race penalty handed to Fernando Alonso in Saudi Arabia last year, a further allegation has emerged involving the Emirati.

According to the BBC, Ben Sulayem is also alleged to have requested that an issue be found with the new Las Vegas GP circuit in order to prevent the venue from receiving the Grade 1 status needed to go racing.

The context of this could be that the Las Vegas race was the first fully pulled together by FOM/Liberty Media, with the commercial rights holder also promoting the event after buying up the land to construct the track facilities.

Read more: FIA president Ben Sulayem under further scrutiny over alleged Las Vegas GP request

Damon Hill hopes Lewis Hamilton won’t back off in final Mercedes year

With Lewis Hamilton heading for pastures new at Ferrari at the conclusion of 2024, he’s vowed to continue giving 100 percent for his current team as he counts down the races left with Mercedes.

1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill said he’s hopeful Hamilton won’t back off on pushing right to the end because, if he does, he may find it difficult to switch back on when he moves across to Ferrari.

“I think, Lewis has got an abundance of talent, he could probably turn it on whenever he wants to, it’ll always be there – but it won’t,” Hill said.

“That’s the problem, it won’t always be there, because he’s getting on a bit.

“And so, there is an element of, I hope, he doesn’t slack off too much this year. He needs to really, this year, establish everything about him and if there’s opportunities – and I know he’ll do it – but he needs to not get outqualified by George every race, he needs to get up there and get the best results for Mercedes and then leave with a spring in his step, so that the challenge is still there.

Read more: Why Lewis Hamilton ‘cannot afford to back off’ in final Mercedes season

Christian Horner responds to Toto Wolff’s assertion

Following the race in Bahrain, Mercedes’ Toto Wolff said Max Verstappen was in “a different galaxy” and feared the championship battle is already over.

But Red Bull’s Christian Horner was having none of it, saying one race isn’t enough of a sample size to draw any conclusions.

“I’ve been in this business too long to draw too many conclusions from a single race,” Horner told media including after the race on Saturday when presented with Wolff’s ‘different galaxy’ assessment.

“It’s a fantastic start, we’ll enjoy this moment, a maximum point score, but it’s a long season.

“Many different venues, different challenges, different conditions, and what we saw in the testing is things that are closer now.

“We got it right this weekend, we took the right tyres into the race, we executed a perfect race with both cars, and we got a great finish. But I think that it will converge.”

Read more: Christian Horner responds to Toto Wolff claim made at Bahrain Grand Prix

Adrian Newey downplays ‘step into the unknown’ with RB20

While Red Bull appear to have shown up with a revolutionary change of direction with their RB20 for this season, chief technical officer Adrian Newey has downplayed the extent of the changes under the skin.

“No, not at all,” Newey responded on the F1 Nation podcast when asked if the RB20 was a ‘step into the unknown’ compared to its predecessor.

“I mean, the underlying architecture of the car is the third generation evolution of what started as RB18.

“Where we carry everything, apart from the radiators, they’ve changed, but apart from that, the layout of the front suspension, the rear suspension, the gearbox, casing, et cetera, it’s a third evolution of RB18.

“The bits that are visible, and they’ve obviously caused quite a lot of attention, obviously, we’re pursuing aerodynamic gains there, but the visual change is actually much, much larger than the performance change you get from that and there are other much more subtle bits, that people haven’t noticed, that are probably responsible for a bigger gain.”

Read more: Adrian Newey discredits ‘radical’ Red Bull theory with full RB20 explanation