Red Bull’s Mateschitz successor Mintzlaff to be in Jeddah

Wed, 6 March 2024, 09:00

Mar.6 (GMM) The scandal engulfing Christian Horner and revealing the depth of a power struggle at Red Bull looks set to race on throughout and beyond this weekend’s Saudi Arabian GP.

On one side of the divide is Red Bull’s 51 percent Thai owner, headed by Chalerm Yoovidhya, who rushed to Bahrain last weekend to back the embattled Horner.

But on the other side of the obvious power struggle is the minority shareholding Austrian faction, who actually run the energy drink company.

And they, backed by Jos Verstappen and Dr Helmut Marko, will have their own board-level support on site in Jeddah this weekend, in the form of Oliver Mintzlaff – the new Red Bull co-CEO in the wake of Dietrich Mateschitz’s late 2022 death.

Since Mateschitz died, transferring his 49 percent stake to his son Mark, the Austrian and Thai sides have apparently struggled to collaborate – including Yoovidhya apparently vetoing the Austrians’ push to oust Horner.

“Mintzlaff is expected in Saudi Arabia this weekend,” the major German daily Bild reports. “It will be a visit that will be followed with great excitement both internally and externally.”

Jos Verstappen will not be in Jeddah due to a rallying commitment, but – like much of the F1 world – he was in Dubai this week. World champion Max Verstappen’s father predictably did not invite Horner to his 52nd birthday party, but Marko did attend.

For his part, accused not only of an inappropriate relationship with a female team staff member but also of trying to wrestle control of the team away from the Austrians, Horner sat down for a meeting with Max’s manager Raymond Vermeulen.

One source said the meeting, attended by other high-ranking Red Bull officials, “went well” – but the Austrian newspaper Osterreich believes “not much is said to have come of it”.

Lawyers representing Horner, meanwhile, reportedly threatened legal action against what they claim was an “unlawful” feature in Business F1 magazine this week, in which the female staff member was actually named.

“The piece is littered with inaccuracies and is subject to legal complaint,” a Red Bull spokesperson is quoted as responding to The Telegraph newspaper.

The team’s 2026 engine partner Ford is publicly uncomfortable and angry about the Horner scandal, and even existing supplier Honda now has concerns.

“We have not received any direct explanation from Red Bull regarding this matter,” Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) boss Koji Watanabe told the Japanese outlet

“I believe what we want is transparency,” he said. “HRC also hopes that this issue will be resolved as soon as possible. We have a meeting coming up, so I think we should mention it.”

Amid the scandal and the turmoil, Dr Helmut Marko insists the actual F1 team is still “continuing to function well”.

“When it comes to the track, everyone is fully focused and knows what they have to do,” he told Speed Week. “All disturbing noises are blocked out.”

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