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Formula One

Red Bull in crisis as Jos Verstappen calls for Horner to go

Good grief. Despite dominating on track, Red Bull has descended into a fully blown civil war…

Published: 04 Mar 2024

Despite cruising to a 1-2 finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday, Red Bull is facing the biggest crisis in history off the track as key figures clash over the saga engulfing team principal Christian Horner.

Max Verstappen’s dad Jos has now publicly called for Horner to step down: claims of inappropriate behaviour against the 50-year-old were dismissed by an independent lawyer last week, but hours later a tranche of alleged messages between Horner and a colleague were leaked online.

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That plunged the team straight back into disarray, and Horner has refused to say if the messages - some of which appear sexual in nature - are genuine. He has repeatedly denied all the allegations made against him.

Since then Jos Verstappen has told two newspapers that the situation was “driving people apart” and “cannot continue”. According to BBC Sport, Verstappen made those comments after falling out with Horner.

However, the Dutchman - a former F1 driver himself - has denied being the source of the leak.

Meanwhile, F1 and the FIA are believed to have discussed the matter this weekend, although it’s still not clear what stance they’ve taken over the issue since making it clear two weeks ago that they’d really like it to just go away as quickly as possible.

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And while there were calls for greater transparency from two team principals heading into the race in Bahrain, possibly most damning of all is that no one (in public at least) has voiced any concern for the wellbeing of the complainant, who is now at the centre of a worldwide media storm.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem

Reports claim that FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem - who posted a since-deleted picture on Instagram over the weekend of himself in the company of the disgraced Prince Andrew - personally asked Max Verstappen to back his team boss in public.

The probably-soon-to-be-four-time world champion had only praised Horner for “the performance side of things” in the build-up to the race.

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And to top it all off, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was pictured with Jos in Bahrain, fuelling rumours that Verstappen could walk away from Red Bull and replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes if Horner doesn’t make way.

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