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Max Verstappen says father Jos Verstappen is 'not a liar' but Red Bull shouldn't explode under Christian Horner

Max Verstappen's father Jos Verstappen claimed that Red Bull could be "torn apart" if Christian Horner remains in charge; watch Saudi Arabian GP Practice from Thursday, qualifying on Friday and the race on Saturday - all live on Sky Sports F1

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Craig Slater gives an update on the current situation at Red Bull and whether Max Verstappen will remain with the team after speculation has arisen over his future

Max Verstappen has insisted that his father is "not a liar" but says Jos Verstappen's claim that Red Bull will "explode" if Christian Horner remains in charge "shouldn't" happen.

Horner's position as team principal and chief executive has come under intense scrutiny following an investigation by the team's parent company Red Bull GmbH, which dismissed allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against him by a female colleague. The complainant retains the right to appeal the decision.

Horner, who denied the allegations throughout the process, came under renewed pressure ahead of last weekend's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix when material purporting to be the alleged evidence in the investigation into his conduct was leaked to numerous media organisations and F1 team principals from an anonymous email account.

On the day Verstappen began his quest for a fourth successive drivers' title with a dominant victory in Bahrain, his father told reporters that the team was "in danger of being torn apart" and "will explode".

Speaking to the media for the first time since his father's comments were reported, Verstappen was asked if he agreed with the assessment.

"I don't know," he said. "I mean, I hope not. It shouldn't be. It's a strong company, strong team, a lot of strong team members, so normally not."

Pushed on whether his father, who was filmed having a post-race discussion with Horner in Bahrain, has any regrets over his comments, Verstappen offered a further defence of his character.

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"I haven't asked him that," Verstappen said. "I think from how I know him from when he was in go-karting, he was always very outspoken and is not a liar. That's for sure. That's from my side what I can say about things."

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was spotted talking to Jos Verstappen in the paddock at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Footage courtesy of Sky Italy

Horner is understood to have held face-to-face talks with Verstappen's manager Raymond Vermeulen earlier this week and is set to remain in charge for this week's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, while Jos Verstappen will not be present due to commitments elsewhere.

"I was with him (Jos) until yesterday," Verstappen said. "We speak all the time, we are a team. It's me, my dad and Raymond all together, and that will always be like that also. But I guess he clearly felt like that.

"But I think from my side, it doesn't matter being on one side or the other side, of course, as a 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 I just want to have less talk of what we are doing as a team outside of the track than the actual performance, which at the moment, we have a great car and we are looking forward to a great year."

Verstappen refuses to rule out Mercedes switch

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Max Verstappen responds after being questioned on his future and whether he sees himself staying at Red Bull

Horner's clear intention to remain at Red Bull despite opposition from Verstappen's camp resulted in speculation linking the Dutchman with a move to Mercedes, who have an opening for 2025 with Lewis Hamilton heading to Ferrari.

Verstappen, who triumphed in a hugely intense title battle with Hamilton and Mercedes to win his first world championship in 2021, refused to rule out a future switch.

"The thing is, no one would have seen Lewis moving to Ferrari, and in my life - and that's not related to F1 or whatever, that's just general life - you never know what happens or what comes to you or whatever happens around you or what might influence you," Verstappen said.

"So you can never say 100 per cent that that's how it's going to be. And I approach my life like that but I also don't think about it too much. I'm very relaxed, like I said I'm very happy at the team, the performance is there, there's no reason to leave."

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George Russell thinks any team would be interested in signing Max Verstappen, following rumours linking the Dutchman to Mercedes

Verstappen says he remains intent on seeing out his contract with Red Bull, which runs until the end of 2028, but is wary of the impact of the sport's regulations changing for the 2026 season.

"That has of course always been the intention of signing. That's why we signed so long, to be here," Verstappen said.

"And of course it's about the performance of the car, and of course from 2026 onwards anyway that is a bit of a question mark with new regulations, but I knew that when I signed my contract.

"But I also know what they have done for me in my career, so the intention is of course absolutely to stay with this team because I really enjoy it and I'm also really happy within the team. As long as perform there is no reason also to leave."

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Lewis Hamilton believes Max Verstappen would be on the list to replace him at Mercedes but questions why the Dutchman would want to leave Red Bull

Verstappen confirms Ben Sulayem conversation

Verstappen also addressed reports that FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem had in Bahrain privately urged him to publicly back Horner.

While the likes of Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff have called on the FIA and Formula 1 to ensure there is "transparency" around the process that saw Horner cleared, neither organisation has offered official comment on the topic since the investigation was completed.

Asked about the accuracy of reports of a conversation between himself and Ben Sulayem, who is also facing allegations of race interference at last year's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Verstappen confirmed contact had been made.

"I'm not going to say yes or no about things because he came to me in private," Verstappen said.

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Team principal Christian Horner describes a Red Bull one-two finish in Bahrain as the 'perfect start' and praises the staff behind the scenes

Horner, who is set to face the media in the team bosses' press conference on Thursday in Jeddah, said after Red Bull's one-two in Bahrain that he expects to remain in his position at least until the end of the season.

Asked in Bahrain by Sky Sports F1 if Red Bull are unified, Horner said: "Yes absolutely. We are a very strong team. We have got tremendous support, tremendous partners and great shareholders behind us as well. You don't achieve this kind of result by not being united."

In a later media briefing with reporters on Saturday, Horner said the past week had "not been pleasant" and reaffirmed his intention to remain in his dual roles as team principal and chief executive.

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Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, Simon Lazenby, David Croft, and Naomi Schiff discuss why Red Bull are so far ahead already after a dominant 1-2 win in Bahrain

"Obviously it's not been pleasant, the unwanted attention," Horner said. "But the focus is now very much on the cars. My focus has very much been on what's going on on-track and the result today I think demonstrates where the whole team's focus is and we move onwards."

Horner maintained that he cannot comment on what he described as "anonymous speculative messages from an unknown source", referring to the material leaked last Thursday.

Sky Sports F1's live Saudi Arabian GP schedule

Saudi GP schedule

Thursday March 7

  • 9.50am: F2 Practice
  • 10.50am: F1 Academy Practice
  • 1pm: Saudi Arabian GP Practice One (session starts at 1.30pm)
  • 2.55pm: F2 Qualifying
  • 4.45pm: Saudi Arabian GP Practice Two (session starts at 5pm)
  • 6.15pm: F1 Academy Qualifying
  • 7.15pm: The F1 Show

Friday March 8

  • 11.55am: F1 Academy Race 1
  • 1.10pm: Saudi Arabian GP Practice Three (session starts at 1.30pm)
  • 3.05pm: F2 Sprint Race
  • 4.10pm: Saudi Arabian GP Qualifying build-up

Saturday March 9

  • 12pm: F1 Academy Race 2
  • 1.20pm: F2 Feature Race
  • 3.30pm: Saudi Arabian GP build-up: Grand Prix Saturday
  • 7pm: Saudi Arabian GP reaction: Chequered flag
  • 9.30pm: Saudi Arabian GP highlights

Watch the second round of the new F1 season - the Saudi Arabian GP - live on Sky Sports F1 this coming week, with practice on Thursday, qualifying on Friday and the race at 5pm on Saturday. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership for just £21 a month for 12 months

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