Red Bull latest: Peace talks, Christian Horner support and Verstappen’s secret contract clause

Thomas Maher
Christian Horner, Max Verstappen, Saudi Arabia 2024.

Christian Horner and Max Verstappen converse in the Red Bull garage at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Senior Red Bull personnel are taking steps towards restoring peace and unity in the ranks, following weeks of turmoil to start the season.

With Red Bull’s shareholders backing Christian Horner following the dismissal of Red Bull GmbH’s investigation into the team boss, a truce is believed to have been called between all the senior members of the racing team’s personnel.

Red Bull shareholders unwavering support for Christian Horner

Heading into the season-opening weekend in Bahrain, Red Bull GmbH confirmed the weeks-long investigation into allegations of Horner’s behaviour as team boss had been dismissed.

But this didn’t cool tensions, with Max Verstappen’s father Jos publicly calling for Horner’s job as he insisted the team risked “exploding” if Horner remained at the helm of the team.

At the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Red Bull GmbH carrying out internal investigations into the source of various media information leaks regarding the situation, Red Bull’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko revealed he couldn’t rule himself out of being suspended by the parent organisation.

Marko promptly left the paddock, returning the following day with Red Bull CEO Oliver Mintzlaff.

Max Verstappen outlined his position very publicly that weekend, insisting that his tenure at Red Bull’s F1 team is dependent on Marko’s ongoing participation in helping the operations of the racing outfit.

With Verstappen’s position, put simply, being “If Marko goes, I go”, the 80-year-old Austrian was not suspended by Red Bull and later publicly confirmed he is happy to remain working for Red Bull and to see out the three-year deal he signed over the winter.

Since that weekend, the employee at the centre of the accusations against Horner has appointed a new legal team and has gone to the FIA to appeal against the outcome of Red Bull’s investigation, which was carried out by an external barrister with no connections to Red Bull – the identity of the KC has not been made public.

The employee has also been suspended by Red Bull Racing, due to concerns over the authenticity of the evidence and the accuracy of statements presented during the internal investigation.

However, the situation wasn’t quite ready to calm down in the immediate aftermath of the race in Jeddah, in which Red Bull claimed another 1-2 finish.

Some inaccurate media reports suggested Horner would not make it to the Australian Grand Prix as team boss, having lost the backing of majority shareholder Chalerm Yoovidhya.

Horner is in Australia carrying out his usual duties as team boss, and has the full backing of both sides of Red Bull’s shareholding – both from the Thai side under the Yoovidhya family, and the Austrian side owned by Mark Mateschitz and represented by CEOs Oliver Mintzlaff and Franz Watzlawick.

Another inaccurate rumour was that Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey was unhappy with the situation and was preparing to leave the team. While Newey will miss this weekend’s race in Melbourne and is working on Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar project presently, he will be back in action in Japan and has no intentions of departing the Milton Keynes-based squad. recommends

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Max Verstappen’s Helmut Marko contract clause

With Horner enjoying the full backing of Red Bull’s shareholders, strengthening further his position as team boss that had looked in peril a month ago, the attention now turns to how the other parties involved respond.

With Marko remaining at Red Bull and not under suspension, Verstappen’s future is seemingly no longer in question.

Having made public threats to leave Red Bull should Marko exit, understands that Red Bull is prepared to call Verstappen’s bluff should the situation occur in which the Dutch driver gives them an ultimatum to choose between himself and Horner.

Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen is understood to have been told Red Bull will choose Horner over Verstappen. also understands that a contract clause, inserted into Verstappen’s contract that allows him to leave if Marko’s tenure ends, does exist, and was supposedly inserted without the knowledge of Horner or other senior members of the parent company – achievable through Marko’s position as a director of Red Bull Racing.

However, with the situation calming as F1 turns its attention to this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, understands talks between leading figures at Red Bull Racing have resulted in a cooling of tensions.

Earlier this week, Jos Verstappen suggested in an interview with Belgian media that “it will take time” for peace to be restored entirely.

Horner, Marko, and the Verstappens all have a shared interest – winning the World Championship with Max becoming a four-time World Champion for Red Bull this season, with the focus of the talks being on achieving this without any more infighting.

Sources have indicated a public ceasefire has been agreed in order to restore peace and put an end to the endless speculation and rumour that has enveloped the team in recent weeks.

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