Red Bull crisis ‘handled the right way’ – Verstappen

Fri, 22 March 2024, 09:00

Mar.22 (GMM) The public heat of the Red Bull unrest and obvious power struggle has cooled in Melbourne – but wild rumours continue to rumble in the background.

It was expected that, with his recent rally outings now complete, Max Verstappen’s explosive father Jos would be back in the F1 paddock this weekend in Melbourne.

But he’s absent – and Max was spotted laughing and smiling on the same table with the embattled Christian Horner at Albert Park, along with the triple world champion’s manager Raymond Vermeulen.

“But no one seems to be really happy with the current situation,” Matthias Janisch, the sports editor for Kleine Zeitung newspaper, insists.

“That’s why the next twist in the power struggle is probably only a matter of time.”

Indeed, that newspaper – and other top Austrian publications – are already reporting that Horner and Red Bull’s 51 percent Thai co-owner are shaping up to make Horner a ‘super CEO’ overseeing the entire energy drink company.

The plans may also involve moving Red Bull’s overall company headquarters from Salzburg to Thailand, with the benefit of lower taxes.

At the actual Formula 1 track, though, Verstappen moved to distance himself from the affair.

“As far as I know it has been managed in the right way so far,” the 26-year-old told a big gaggle of reporters in Melbourne.

“I have every reason to be happy. The car works really well. It is my best start to a season. The team has many great people who are constantly working to improve results. That’s what I focus on – performing,” the 2024 championship leader said.

He played down any talk of escaping his 2028 contract due to special exit clauses, after Toto Wolff said he would love to welcome the Dutchman to Mercedes.

“It’s always nice to hear that,” Verstappen said, “but it doesn’t have any impact on what I do. Toto and I had our little moments, but that’s normal when two teams fight for the championship. Respect was always maintained,” said Verstappen.

“But for me it won’t change anything.”

What Verstappen did stress, however, is that the “key people” at Red Bull need to all be kept together, amid escalating rumours that Adrian Newey is already in talks with Ferrari.

“Many people,” Verstappen insisted when asked to name the key people. “I am not going to name them because people already know.

“But if you have a good group of key people, it is important that they stay together and are happy.”

However, he generally played down the significance of the scandal and unrest that has dogged Red Bull’s entire year so far, describing the team as his “second family”.

“It happens that you argue in a family. But you can choose your friends but not your family,” said Verstappen. “I have always felt comfortable here at Red Bull.

“My intention is to stay until the end of the contract, because it would be a great story, even for me personally. To get to the end would basically mean having been part of a family and a team.”

As for team boss Horner’s troubles, and the wider Red Bull power struggle, he insisted: “I won’t go into details, because I don’t know more and it’s not like I want to know. That’s not my job in the team.

“I would like the conversation in the paddock to be a little more about what a great car we have, but I hope that comes little by little.”

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