Max Verstappen: 'I just want to focus on the performance side of things' amid allegations about Christian Horner's behavior

Verstappen's father said Red Bull "will explode" if Horner remains as team principal

Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen talks to reporters in the paddock of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Jeddah on March 6, 2024, ahead of the Saudi Arabian Formula One Grand Prix. (Photo by JOSEPH EID / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH EID/AFP via Getty Images)
Max Verstappen won the first race of the 2024 Formula 1 season by over 20 seconds. (Photo by JOSEPH EID / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH EID/AFP via Getty Images)

Max Verstappen isn’t publicly backing up his dad’s claims that Red Bull Racing could “explode” if team principal Christian Horner stays in his job.

Jos Verstappen, a former Formula 1 driver himself, told the Daily Mail that there is “tension” as Horner remains in charge of the team after an inquiry into alleged inappropriate behavior.

“The team is in danger of being torn apart,” the elder Verstappen said. “It can’t go on the way it is. It will explode. [Horner] is playing the victim when he is the one causing the problems.”

Horner was cleared of alleged misconduct after an independent investigation following accusations of inappropriate behavior by a female Red Bull employee. The allegations against Horner have been the story of the offseason in F1, and Horner was cleared of any wrongdoing in the days leading up to the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen went on to win the Bahrain Grand Prix by over 20 seconds and said Wednesday in Saudi Arabia that he was more worried about the team carrying on its exceptional performance. He did say, however, that his dad is “not a liar” and said that he didn’t see himself without Jos and his manager Raymond Vermeulen by his side.

From the Telegraph:

Asked whether he took his father’s side in the squabble, Verstappen added: “I think from my side, it doesn’t matter being on one side or the other side. Of course, as the son of my dad, it would be weird to be on a different side. But from my side I just want to focus on the performance side of things and have less talk about what is happening outside of the track.”

Verstappen’s easy win in Bahrain came after he posted the most dominant season in F1 history in 2023. He won 19 of 22 races and finished in the top three in all but one race. With teammate Sergio Perez’s two wins, Red Bull’s drivers won 21 of 22 races a season ago.

The gap between Red Bull and the rest of the field still appeared to be sizable in Bahrain. Perez finished second, as Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren cars occupied the next six spots.

Horner, the husband of former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, has been in charge of Red Bull Racing since it entered F1 in 2005. He has categorically denied all the allegations against him and said that he wouldn't be commenting on "anonymous speculation" after a Google Drive folder full of alleged evidence from the investigation was sent to reporters at the start of the Bahrain weekend.

Thursday morning, the Associated Press reported that the woman who made the complaint against Horner had been suspended by Red Bull. The company has not commented on the reported suspension and no reason for the suspension has been reported.