Max Verstappen says father Jos is ‘not a liar’ after Christian Horner controversy

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Red Bull team boss Horner was at the centre of accusations of inappropriate behaviour towards a female colleague. After an internal investigation, Red Bull’s board dismissed the complaint last week.

An anonymous email, including messages purporting to involve Horner, was leaked the following day. Horner has refused to say if the messages are genuine and Jos Verstappen denied that he was the source of the leaks.

Jos Verstappen, who drove in Formula 1 between 1994 and 2003, told BBC Sport he had made the comments after a falling out with Horner in Bahrain.

He is not attending this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as he is competing in a rally.

Max said he had spent the days between the two races with his father and said Jos and their manager Raymond Vermeulen would always be with him as long as he was in F1.

“I don’t see myself in F1 without them by my side.” Verstappen said.

Asked whether he expected Horner and his father to put their differences aside, Max said: “Everyone in general, even if you have arguments or not, there are always things that can be worked out. Everyone is man enough and respectful enough anyway.

“I have not always agreed with everything that happens in F1. That’s why sometimes it is good to have a discussion about things and then you might agree to disagree sometimes. That’s what happens in a relationship. That’s how it goes.”

Verstappen refused to be drawn on the fact that FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem asked him in Bahrain to offer his public support to Horner.

“I am not going to say yes or no,” Verstappen said. “He came to me in private.”

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said the situations surrounding Horner and Ben Sulayem were not good for the image of F1.

“Disappointing to see what’s going on right now, it doesn’t look good from the outside looking in and it doesn’t look good looking in,” he said.

“It is a really important time, to stick to our values and hold ourselves accountable for our actions. It is a really pivotal moment in terms of what we project to the world and how it’s handled and it’s not been handled very well up to this point. Transparency is really key. It highlights some of the issues we have within the sport. Making people feel comfortable in this environment is key and it is clearly not the case.”

Verstappen dismissed claims in the media that he could be tempted to leave Red Bull for Mercedes in the wake of the Horner controversy.

Asked whether he would stay to the end of his contract in 2028, Verstappen said: “That has always been the intention of signing. That is why we signed (for) so long, to be here, and of course it is about the performance of the car and from 2026 onwards.

“It’s a bit of question marks 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. The intention is absolutely to stay with this team because I really enjoy it and I am happy within the team. As long as we perform, there is no reason to leave.”

Mercedes driver George Russell said every team on the grid would be interested in signing Verstappen if he was available.

Russell said: “Any team wants to have the best driver line-up possible. And right now, Max is the best driver on the grid. So if any team had a chance to sign Max, they would 100% be taking it.

“The question is more on the other side, on his side and Red Bull’s side. Obviously so much going on there. We don’t know what truly is going on behind closed doors and ultimately it’s none of our business right now.”