Christian Horner
Christian Horner

The Formula One world has been rocked by escalating tensions within the Red Bull Racing team, as recent developments suggest star driver Max Verstappen could potentially exit the team amidst a dramatic feud involving his father, Jos Verstappen, and team principal Christian Horner. The controversy casts a shadow over the team’s preparations for the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Jos Verstappen opting to miss the event following a highly publicized dispute with Horner.

Reports from German and Dutch media have ignited speculation about Max Verstappen’s future at Red Bull, highlighting an “escape” clause in the three-time world champion’s contract. This clause reportedly allows Verstappen the option to leave the team should Red Bull Austria’s motorsport advisor, Helmut Marko, depart. Marko, a key figure in Verstappen’s career who signed him to Red Bull’s junior program in 2014, has been a central figure in the alleged power struggle within the team, particularly between himself and Horner.

The situation intensified over the weekend, with revelations of Jos Verstappen’s engagement with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff in Bahrain, suggesting that Mercedes could be a potential destination for Max should the current discord at Red Bull persist. This comes alongside Jos Verstappen’s decision to compete in the Rallye de Hannut in Belgium instead of attending the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, a move seen as an attempt to distance himself from the ongoing turmoil at Red Bull.

Adding to the drama, Jos Verstappen publicly criticized Horner, urging his resignation and warning of the team’s potential collapse due to internal conflicts. “The team is in danger of being torn apart,” Verstappen Snr told The Mail on Sunday, accusing Horner of playing the victim in a situation he allegedly provoked.

Christian Horner, meanwhile, remains under significant pressure following a clearance by Red Bull’s parent company in Austria of allegations made against him by a female employee. The dispute was further fueled by the leak of 79 screengrabs, predominantly comprising WhatsApp messages between Horner and his accuser, just a day after the complaint was dismissed. It is believed that Jos Verstappen could have been involved in the leaks regarding Horner’s case.

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