Christian Horner tells Max Verstappen he can LEAVE Red Bull if he wants in latest F1 bombshell following sext scandal

FORMULA ONE has been rocked by another bombshell after Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Max Verstappen he can leave the team if he wants to.

It comes after a whirlwind 10 days after Horner was acquitted of inappropriate behavior towards a female colleague.


Christian Horner sent a shocking message to Max Verstappen Credit: EPAMercedes top driver Toto Wolff would like to replace outgoing driver Lewis Hamilton with Max Verstappen


Mercedes top driver Toto Wolff would like to replace outgoing driver Lewis Hamilton with Max VerstappenCredit: Getty

The ensuing row turned toxic between the 50-year-old and Verstappen’s father Jos, who accused Horner of tearing the team apart.

There have also been allegations of a power play at the top of the energy drink’s headquarters, which is based in Austria and is their Thai majority shareholder.

Now, after becoming frustrated by Verstappen’s father’s bombastic claims, Horner appears to have called his driver’s bluff, while Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said he will do a “handstand” to try and get the three-time world champion into his car for next season as Lewis Hamilton’s replacement.

Speaking after Verstappen won the Saudi Grand Prix, Horner said: “You can’t force someone to be somewhere just because of a piece of paper.

“If someone didn’t want to be on this team, then you know, we’re not going to force someone against their will to be here.

“That’s true whether it’s a machine operator or a designer or someone in one of the support functions that goes through the job.

“Being involved in a team like this involves dedication and passion. And Max has that, we’ve seen it.

“He’s been here since he was 18. And I have no doubts about his commitment and passion.

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“But no individual is greater than the team.

“We’ve got a phenomenal car. We’ve got one spot open for next year. I’ve probably got 16 drivers who are desperate to be in that car next year.

F1’s Christian Horner says it is “time to draw the line” at allegations of inappropriate behaviour

“I’m sure every team in the paddock would love to have Max, but as Toto also said, the best drivers always want to be in the best cars.”

Wolff was asked if he would like Verstappen in his team to fill the void left by Lewis Hamilton at Ferrari.

He said: “I would love to have it.

“I think this is a decision Max has to make and there isn’t a team up and down the grid that wouldn’t do a handstand to have him in the car.”

Meanwhile, Horner reiterated that he will not force his driver to stay against his wishes after being asked if he fears losing the 26-year-old.

He said: “You can never say never. If a driver doesn’t want to be somewhere, then they will go somewhere else.

“But as a team, I don’t see any reason why anyone would want to leave this team. I think he has a lot of support around him. And he’s doing a great job with a great car.

“We’re focused on winning and that’s what we do. That’s what we did today. That’s how we started this season.

“Obviously I’m aware of all the noise, but it hasn’t distracted the team from their work and now we’re obviously one team.

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“We all have a common interest, which is the performance of the team and that is what comes first for every single member who has a role in the team.

The situation of Red Bull team advisor Helmut Mark, seen with Max Verstappen, appears uncertain


The situation of Red Bull team advisor Helmut Mark, seen with Max Verstappen, appears uncertainCredit: Getty

“From the very top to the very bottom. And without an absolutely coordinated team, it is impossible to achieve this kind of performance.

“But if an individual doesn’t want to be on the team, we don’t force people to be here.

“People are here and working in this sport and this team because they want to be here, because they are passionate about what they do.

“It is this passion that allows us not to achieve average results, but exceptional results. And this passion and commitment of each member is the DNA of Red Bull Racing.

“And it’s going to continue not just this week, not next week. But we’ve been through 20 years and we’re going to continue for the next 20 years.”

It comes after Verstappen threatened to quit Red Bull if team adviser Helmut Marko, 80, is forced out of his job while the Horner investigation continues.

Marko will meet Red Bull boss Oliver Mintzlaff at the Saudi GP after being questioned about rumors he could be suspended and forced to miss the next race in Australia.

Marko, who is an employee of Red Bull and not a member of the racing team, told Austrian broadcaster ORF that “the theoretical possibility exists”.

But he added: “In the end, I decide what I’m going to do.”

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