Christian Horner responds to Jos Verstappen’s controversial Bahrain GP comments

Thomas Maher
Christian Horner, 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Christian Horner has offered a riposte to Jos Verstappen's comments after the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Christian Horner has publicly responded to the controversial comments made by Jos Verstappen after last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Jos Verstappen, father of Red Bull’s lead driver Max, made a public call for Christian Horner and Red Bull to part ways, in controversial comments made after the Bahrain Grand Prix, just days after Horner had an internal investigation into him by Red Bull GmbH dismissed.

Christian Horner ‘won’t air discussions’ with Jos Verstappen

Verstappen, who claimed Red Bull will ‘explode’ with Horner remaining at the helm, made his comments just days after the conclusion of Red Bull GmbH’s investigation into allegations about Horner’s behaviour as team boss.

The employee who brought their grievances to the F1 team’s parent company has been suspended by Red Bull Racing, while Horner became the unwilling subject of a malicious sideshow when an email leak of alleged information from the investigation was sent to hundreds of F1 personnel and media.

Horner and Verstappen senior were seen in the paddock engaged in animated discussion before a handshake between the two parties – with both the discussion and handshake witnessed by PlanetF1.com – only for Verstappen’s comments to be published in the British media hours later.

Having made the public call for Horner to fall on his sword at Red Bull, Verstappen senior is not in attendance in Saudi Arabia due to his pre-planned participation in a rally, and remains a welcome guest of the Red Bull Racing team.

Speaking to the media ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Horner was quizzed for his thoughts on Verstappen’s comments and tried to brush the Dutchman’s assertions aside.

“I’m obviously aware of the comments that were made,” he said.

“There was a discussion subsequent to the race, everyone’s focus is very much on the future, the team’s focus is very much on defending both of these world titles, Max’s three successive world titles, the 55 victories of Max, the 114 victories we’ve achieved, and now sit tied with Williams on GP victories, our focus is very much on the future, discussions took place following the race in Bahrain and we’re all looking forward.”

Having attempted to divert attention away from the matter, Horner was asked to clarify whether the air has been cleared between himself and Verstappen senior.

“I think I’m not going to air all the discussions that are private between the parties but discussions have been inevitably had,” he said.

“The team is focused on the challenges that are ahead of us, and the team is very focused on the season ahead and, whilst we’ve had a very dominant race in Bahrain, we don’t expect that in future races.

“We’re acutely aware of our competitors, and you don’t achieve what we’ve had by not being a united team – you need to be working in total harmony to achieve those kinds of races.”

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Christian Horner: Jos Verstappen and I both have the same interest

With Max Verstappen caught in the middle of the row between his father and his team boss, under whom he has claimed his three world titles, the Dutchman has been reluctant to throw the full weight of his support behind the under-fire Horner.

On Wednesday, Verstappen admitted it “would be weird” to be on the opposite side to his father, while Horner was asked whether Jos is too involved in Max’s career at this point.

“Obviously, Max’s father has played a key role in his career and getting him to F1,” Horner said.

“Obviously, Jos is his own man, and Max is his own man as well.

“We’ve seen him go from being a teenager when he joined us to now very much a young man who’s achieved what he has.

“It’s not for me to comment on relationships between fathers and drivers, they’re all unique between the different individuals.

“I spoke to Jos following the Grand Prix and obviously congratulated him on his son’s performance.

“I think it’s in everyone’s interests, collectively, that we’ve agreed to move on and focus on the future.

“We both have a vested interest in this on to get the best cars, the best out of him, he’s an outstanding talent and hopefully we can continue to provide him with a very competitive car.”

Having been subjected to the humiliation of the unverified email leak contents, Horner said that he’s doing his best to move on and put the matter behind him.

“There’s been a constant source of… one thing after another and I think that there’s been an awful lot of leakage around this, in what is a private and confidential matter between the employees and the company,” he said.

“Unfortunately it’s through that leakage that it’s garnered an awful lot of coverage, and it’s now time to focus on the track and going racing.

“We’re a race team, we’ve got some phenomenal partners who have been hugely supportive, the team, company, 1600 people in the group, I have to thank them for their support.

“It’s time to move on, we see today Formula 1 Academy coming alive with the support of the teams, we have 3 drivers across the RB group in that, we’ve announced new partners, and I think now is the point of focus that we’re here for a grand prix and we should be talking about the cars and the drivers.”

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