‘As if those words were put into his mouth’ – ‘Strange’ theory raised over Max Verstappen damage claim

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen hand to head next to Christian Horner

Max Verstappen, hand to head

That Max Verstappen and Christian Horner had opposing views on the damage the Dutchman’s RB20 suffered when he clobbered a bollard at the Miami Grand Prix has been seen as a sign all is not well at Red Bull.

Although the Milton Keynes squad has won four of this year’s six Grands Prix, away from the track rumours of disconnect and tension in the wake of the Horner investigation continue to make headlines.

‘After that it becomes even more curious…’

So much so it has been suggested, although it must be said denied Horner, that Adrian Newey’s exit is a result of the drama from back in February.

Amidst rumours Verstappen could be off to Mercedes in the not-too-distant future, Red Bull announced last week that design legend Newey would leave the team in the first quarter of 2025.

The announcement raised eyebrows in the paddock, but that’s not the only thing that has NOS’ Formula 1 pundits wondering about the situation over at Red Bull.

Last Sunday, Verstappen lost the Miami Grand Prix to Lando Norris in a race in which the Dutchman clobbered a bollard which he joked he “didn’t like”.

He denied that his off-track excursion had any lingering effects.

“It didn’t feel different, so I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe it was already damaged. I don’t know. I mean I hit that thing and then my pace was the same so I didn’t really know if there was damage.”

But according to Horner, Verstappen had “actually done quite a lot of damage to the underside of the car” in that off-track moment.

Verstappen, in the Red Bull press release, changed his tune as he spoke of “understeer” and struggling “a lot with grip”, adding Red Bull had “found that the floor was damaged and had a hole in which could have been picked up from hitting the cone.”

Jan Dekker called the U-Turn “curious”.

“It is curious that a team boss says to twenty journalists he had significant damage and that affected his lap times,” F1 journalist Dekker told NOS’s F1 podcast. “And Verstappen says: I don’t know anything.

“After that it becomes even more curious because then there is a press release in which Verstappen said that there was damage, as if those words were put into his mouth.

“Everything is going well at Red Bull, but the internal communication… The fact that Horner says that while Verstappen says not, I find that strange.”

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However, his fellow pundit Jan Lammers says Dekker is making a big deal out of nothing.

“That could also just be because they haven’t spoken to each other yet,” says the 67-year-old. “You collect data and then one person has seen something and discusses it with Horner, while Max is busy with other things.

“The questions were asked to him at a time when he had not yet spoken to everyone.”

Dutch racer Jeroen Bleekemolen believes Verstappen’s press conference comments may have been made to avoid taking away from Norris’ maiden Grand Prix victory.

“Verstappen perhaps did not want to detract from Norris’s victory. He indicated that he had honestly beaten him, that he had the better car,” he said.

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