The truth behind Jos Verstappen’s planned non-appearance at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Henry Valantine
Jos Verstappen in Red Bull hospitality.

Jos Verstappen.

Jos Verstappen is set to miss the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend, having been in the headlines for comments about Christian Horner.

Verstappen, who celebrates his 52nd birthday on Monday, was reported by ESPN to be missing this weekend’s race, having made headlines over the weekend after publicly stating that Red Bull “is in danger of being torn apart” if Horner remains in position as Red Bull team boss.

Jos Verstappen set to miss Saudi Arabian Grand Prix for prior engagement

But in contrast to ESPN’s initial report, PlanetF1.com now understands that Verstappen is not missing the race weekend as a result of the comments he made and the subsequent fall-out, but he is due to take part in the Rallye de Hannut – a long-planned engagement in his calendar – and still remains a welcome guest of Red Bull at F1 races.

Even though Verstappen makes every one of son Max’s race weekends when he can, his return to motorsport through rallying in recent years has seen him take part in race weekends that do clash with the F1 season.

What did Jos Verstappen say about Christian Horner in Bahrain over the weekend?

Horner saw a lengthy internal investigation into alleged inappropriate behaviour dismissed by parent company Red Bull GmbH ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, with senior Red Bull figures and wife Geri later arriving at the circuit in an apparent show of solidarity with the team principal.

Horner and former Arrows driver Verstappen were seen in heated conversation in the paddock, though the Dutchman is believed to have apologised, but he gave an interview to the Daily Mail and De Telegraaf that later travelled all over the world.

“There is tension here while he remains in position,” Verstappen Sr told Mail Sport. “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.”

But when asked if he was looking to orchestrate a campaign to take Horner out of his position, he flatly denied it.

“That wouldn’t make sense. Why would I do that when Max is doing so well here?” he replied.

PlanetF1.com recommends

How RB and Ferrari fired the first shots in 2024 team-mate wars

F1 fan survey: Your favourite drivers, teams and more F1 questions to answer

The speculation surrounding these comments has even led to unlikely speculation that Verstappen could be on the radar of Mercedes to replace Lewis Hamilton next season, despite him being under contract with Red Bull until the 2028 season.

Toto Wolff said as much when asked about the prospect after the Bahrain Grand Prix, telling media including PlanetF1.com: “I think the driver will always choose the quickest car, that is fundamentally what it’s all about.

“At the moment, Red Bull is the quickest car so that will, in my opinion, always be the priority.”

PlanetF1.com has approached Red Bull for comment.

Read next: Red Bull’s internal war: Christian Horner is under attack and rivals are ready to pounce