‘He is not a liar:’ Max Verstappen defends his outspoken father amid Christian Horner controversy

Formula One world champion Max Verstappen has defended his father Jos after he weighed in on the Christian Horner controversy which has overshadowed Red Bull’s start to the new season.

The father of the three-time F1 world champion criticized Red Bull’s decision to keep Horner in his role, saying “the team is in danger of being torn apart” following allegations that the team principal engaged in inappropriate behavior towards a member of the racing team.

“My dad, from how I know him in go-karting, is very outspoken and he is not a liar, that is for sure,” Verstappen said, per Reuters, ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“My dad and I are very close. We call every day.”

Following Jos Verstappen comments, Red Bull said in a statement sent to CNN on Monday: “This is untrue. We are united as a team and we are concentrating on racing.”

Horner was cleared of wrongdoing last week and reiterated that he denied the allegations on Friday after alleged leaked messages were distributed to members of the F1 community on Thursday in a Google Drive. CNN has been unable to corroborate their authenticity.

Horner and Jos Verstappen in the paddock prior to practice ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix on February 29. - Clive Rose/Getty Images
Horner and Jos Verstappen in the paddock prior to practice ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix on February 29. - Clive Rose/Getty Images

In a statement, regarding the mass email, Red Bull told CNN: “This is a private matter between Mr. Horner and another and it would be inappropriate for Red Bull to comment on this.”

In an interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Jos Verstappen denied being the source behind the leaked messages. “But 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.”

‘Things must go really crazy’

Following Verstappen’s victory in the season-opening race at the Bahrain Grand Prix, in which Horner was present with his wife Geri Halliwell, Verstappen’s father told The Daily Mail that “there is tension while he remains in position.”

He added: “It can’t go on the way it is. It will explode. He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems.”

The apparent rift between Horner and Verstappen’s father has led many to question whether the Dutch driver will remain in his seat past this season.

“Things must go really crazy, I guess, but that’s not the target for everyone,” said Verstappen, when asked if he might not be racing for Red Bull next year.

“I’m just focusing on the driving bit and I think that is also the most important for the team right now.

“That’s also why we came here and that’s our main target and what we want to focus on you know, to not have this stuff going on race after race because that is not good for the team.”

Verstappen coasted to victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday, laying down an ominous marker for the rest of the field in the opening race of this F1 season.

The win dispelled any notions, for now, that Red Bull’s dominance might have waned over the winter or that its preparations were significantly disrupted by an external investigation.

Verstappen, and Red Bull, will hope the positive results on the track will continue at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vertappen’s father is not expected to attend the race this weekend due to a prior commitment, according to the BBC.

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