‘I lead this team’ – Christian Horner makes his, Verstappen and Marko Red Bull roles clear

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen speaking with Christian Horner and Helmut Marko

Red Bull's off-track troubles continue to dominate headlines

Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko are “part” of Red Bull, but Christian Horner has made it crystal clear he’s the one who “leads” the team.

Earlier last month Red Bull were thrown into chaos when a story broke claiming team boss Horner was under investigation for alleged inappropriate behaviour.

‘There’s probably too much said already by other parties’

That was confirmed by Red Bull GmbH, who on the eve of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix dismissed the investigation with Horner continuing in his role as team boss.

That, though, was by no means the end of the matter as subsequently Red Bull motorsport advisor Marko was investigated regarding the leaks about the Horner saga, Max Verstappen’s father Jos called for Horner to step down, and more than once, and Verstappen stated that if Marko goes, he may follow the Austrian out of the door.

It’s a saga that has blighted Red Bull’s impressive start to their title defence with the team claiming back-to-back 1-2 results to sit 38 points clear of second-placed Ferrari.

Horner is keen to draw a line in the sand, the Briton adamant that everyone within Red Bull plays a “key role” in the team. But at the end of the day, he’s the one who leads.

“I think that there’s probably too much said already by other parties,” the 50-year-old said in Saudi Arabia.

“The team is the team, Max is part of the team, Helmut is part of the team, I lead this team, and everybody has a key role to play.”

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But as Verstappen’s threat to walk away from Red Bull continues to create headlines with the Dutchman linked to Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes seat, Horner says even his star driver is not bigger than Red Bull.

“No individual is bigger than the team,” he said.

“We have a phenomenal car. We’ve got one seat open for next year. I have probably got 16 drivers that are desperate to be in that car for next year.”

He added: “We have a strong relationship with Max. He’s done a wonderful job. His focus is very much on what he’s doing on track, and that’s where our focus is.”

He stated that if Verstappen wants to leave, he won’t stop him.

“You can never say never,” Horner claimed. “If a driver doesn’t want to be somewhere, then they’ll go somewhere else.

“It’s like anything in life, you can’t force somebody to be somewhere just because of a piece of paper. If somebody didn’t want to be at this team, then we’re not going to force somebody against their will to be here.”

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