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Christian Horner: Jos Verstappen says controversy ‘driving team apart’

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Christian Horner: Jos Verstappen says controversy ‘driving team apart’

The controversy around Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is “driving people apart”, says the father of the team’s F1 champion Max Verstappen.

An anonymous email including messages purporting to involve Horner were leaked on Thursday, a day after Red Bull dismissed a complaint of inappropriate behaviour against him.

Horner has refused to say if the leaked messages are genuine.

“It cannot continue this way,” said former F1 driver Jos Verstappen.

“The situation is not good for the team and is driving people apart.”

Verstappen denied that he was the source of the leaks.

The 51-year-old told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: “Why would I do that? Max has a contract with Red Bull until 2028, is performing great and feels at home here. I have no interest in that at all.”

Verstappen made similar comments to the Daily Mail, saying Red Bull would “explode” if Horner remained in his position, adding: “He is playing the victim when he is the one causing problems.”

Verstappen told BBC Sport he made the comments to the two newspapers after falling out with Horner in Bahrain.

He added that Max Verstappen had seen the comments and did not say anything.

A Red Bull spokesperson said: “There are no issues here. The team are united and we are focused on racing.”

On Sunday the Telegraaf reported that Max Verstappen had been asked by Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the president of F1’s governing body the FIA, to back Horner publicly.

BBC Sport has independently verified the story.

Ben Sulayem’s approach came after Max Verstappen gave only qualified support to Horner when asked four times in the lead-up to the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday whether he had full faith and confidence in him.

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The FIA has been approached for comment.

Over the Bahrain event, the FIA repeatedly said that it was in conversation with F1 management on the topic of the Horner allegations.

Jos Verstappen’s intervention is potentially significant because Max wields major influence within Red Bull as a result of his success on the track.

It also reflects internal tensions known to exist within Red Bull, between Horner and motorsport adviser Helmut Marko, and between the Thai majority owners and executives at the headquarters in Austria.

Last year the Verstappens backed Austrian Marko after he had a falling-out with Horner.

The company ownership is split, with 51% owned by the Yoovidhya family and 49% by Red Bull in Austria, under Mark Mateschitz, the son of co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz, who died in October 2022.

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