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Fractures inside Red Bull Racing seem to have grown after Max Verstappen’s father, Jos, warned the group was “in danger of being torn apart” if Christian Horner remained in cost amid the continuing controversy surrounding the group principal.

Horner stays within the highlight after a turbulent few days in Bahrain to start out the brand new Formulation One season. Though Verstappen scored his eighth consecutive grand prix victory with a dominant show, beating teammate Sergio Pérez by over 20 seconds, his father spoke publicly about divisions inside the group because the scenario stays the most important story within the sport.

The scenario turned public in early February when Red Bull GmbH, Red Bull Racing’s dad or mum firm, introduced it had launched an investigation into allegations made in opposition to Horner of inappropriate habits, which it mentioned it took “extremely seriously.”

On Wednesday, Red Bull introduced that the investigation, carried out by an out of doors occasion, had led to the grievance being dismissed, noting the complainant had the best to attraction. The following day, a cache of messages allegedly between Horner and the feminine complainant was anonymously leaked to high-ranking F1 officers and the worldwide media. The Athletic, which acquired the e-mail leak immediately, has not been in a position to confirm the contents, and Horner has repeatedly declined to touch upon the messages.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Jos Verstappen warned: “There is tension here while (Horner) remains in position. The team is in danger of being torn apart. 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.”

Chalerm Yoovidhya (middle), whose household holds a 51% shareholding in Red Bull, joined Christian Horner (second from proper) and his spouse Geri Halliwell-Horner (proper) for the Bahrain Grand Prix podium ceremony. (ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)

Jos Verstappen raced in F1 between 1994 and 2003 and has been central to his son’s profession and success, although he has no formal function on the group. He made comparable feedback concerning the controversy in a separate interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, additionally printed Saturday night time after the race.

Requested about Verstappen’s feedback, a Red Bull spokesperson mentioned, “There are no issues here, the team are united and we are focused on racing.”

Tensions escalate

Jos Verstappen’s feedback publicly put the daddy of the group’s star driver in opposition to its group principal.

He attends the overwhelming majority of his son’s races. Though he isn’t an worker of Red Bull Racing, his closeness with Max means he’s regarded to carry a sure diploma of affect. On Thursday, he was seen carrying a Red Bull group jacket whereas watching the second apply session in Bahrain, throughout which the nameless electronic mail was circulated.

After the race, Horner mentioned he was “not going to comment on what motives, whatever person may have” for the leak.

Jos denied to each the Every day Mail and De Telegraaf that he was concerned within the leak, telling the Every day Mail, “That wouldn’t make sense. Why would I do that when Max is doing so well here?”

There have been rising solutions of friction inside the group ever for the reason that loss of life of Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz in October 2022. Mateschitz was the undisputed chief of the corporate’s F1 efforts, and his absence has led to elevated tensions between senior figures inside the firm.

Following the race, Horner mentioned he was “absolutely” assured he would stay answerable for the group and that his “focus is on the season ahead and the races we have ahead” after the completion of the investigation course of.

“The grievance that was raised was dismissed,” Horner mentioned. “End of. Move on.”

He mentioned it had “not been pleasant, the unwanted attention,” however spoke of the “tremendous support” he felt from inside the group and the broader Red Bull firm.

On the grid forward of the race, Horner spoke with Chalerm Yoovidhya, the son of the Red Bull co-founder, whose household holds a 51% shareholding in Red Bull GmbH. Horner and his spouse, Geri Halliwell-Horner, have been joined by Yoovidhya and his spouse to observe the rostrum celebrations after Max Verstappen’s victory. Jos stood a few rows behind them in the course of the ceremony.

Max Verstappen has maintained all through the investigation into Horner that he’s totally centered on what is going on on the monitor and that the scenario has not distracted him from his preparations for the brand new season.

Requested by The Athletic after taking pole place on Friday whether or not he nonetheless had full religion in Horner’s management, Verstappen mentioned: “When I look at how Christian operates within the team, he has been an incredible team boss.

“So absolutely, from the performance side of things, you can’t even question that.” Verstappen mentioned he spoke “a lot” to Horner and that the Red Bull group principal was “fully committed to the team.”

His father’s feedback, nonetheless, will result in contemporary questions concerning the dynamic with Horner forward of the second spherical of the season in Saudi Arabia in a couple of days.

Max is underneath contract at Red Bull till 2028 after signing one of many longest and most profitable contracts in F1 historical past following his maiden championship success in 2021.

The character of the brewing pressure at Red Bull led to Mercedes group boss Toto Wolff (who has referred to as for transparency within the probe) being requested if there was an opportunity Verstappen could drive for the group for 2025 as a alternative for Lewis Hamilton.

Wolff mentioned: “A driver will always choose the quickest car. That is fundamentally what it is all about. At the moment, Red Bull is the quickest car, so that will in my opinion, that will always be the priority.”

(Lead picture of Max Verstappen together with his father Jos Verstappen forward of the Bahrain GP: Clive Mason/Getty Photos)