Red Bull won’t force Max Verstappen to stay if he decides to leave

Red Bull won't force Max Verstappen to stay if he wants to leave

Red Bull insists it won’t force Max Verstappen to stay if the three-time world champion decides he wants to leave the Formula 1 team.

According to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, Max Verstappen won’t be bound by the terms of his contract if he decides to leave the Milton Keynes-based squad.

Amid Toto Wolff’s statement that he would “love” to have Max Verstappen join Mercedes, Horner stated he did not doubt the Dutchman’s commitment to Red Bull and that he wasn’t going to force him to stay.

Verstappen’s contract to race with the Milton Keynes-based outfit is currently set to expire in 2028. However, his future has been the focus of intense speculation in recent weeks with the scaling tensions at Red Bull.

Verstappen voiced some damning remarks when it was reported over the weekend that the company’s racing advisor Helmut Marko would be fired amid what appears to be a power struggle for control of the Red Bull company along with its F1 team.

Verstappen publicly supported the Marko faction, demonstrating his support, as the Horner faction began to openly draw battle lines. He said Red Bull would have a “problem” if the team advisor left because he might also decide he no longer wants to be a member of the team.

Speaking in Saudi Arabia, the triple world champion said: “I’ve always clearly indicated that he [Marko] has to stay. I can’t continue without him.”

Many saw Verstappen’s strong remarks on the subject as a direct political warning to Red Bull’s top management about the repercussions of taking action against Marko.

Marko said on Saturday that he was no longer in danger of losing his advisory role with the energy drink company after holding a crisis meeting with Red Bull CEO Oliver Mintzlaff in the paddock.

The Dutchman has, however, been less hesitant to back team principal Horner, who his father Jos has publicly called for to be fired in a bid to prevent the team from falling apart.

Verstappen’s outspoken support for Marko and his statements that he wouldn’t want to stay if he lost his close ally are significant points that Horner is well aware of. However, he has stated that he will not force Verstappen to be bound by the terms of his contract if he has such strong reservations about leaving the team.

“You can never say never,” Horner claimed. “If a driver doesn’t want to be somewhere, then they’ll go somewhere else.

“It’s like anything in life, you can’t force somebody to be somewhere just because of a piece of paper. If somebody didn’t want to be at this team, then we’re not going to force somebody against their will to be here.

“And that applies, whether it’s a machine operator, or a designer, or somebody in one of the support functions, that runs through the business.

“Being involved in a team like this involves commitment and passion and Max has that, we’ve seen that, he’s been here since he was 18 years of age and I have no doubt about his commitment and passion going forward.

“As a team, I can’t see any reason why anybody would want to step out of this team. I think he’s got a great support around him and he’s doing a wonderful job with a great car.”

Given that Horner’s father Jos has publicly advocated for Horner to leave the team and that Verstappen has not openly supported Horner to stay with the team like he has for Marko, there are concerns regarding the current situation of the relationship between Horner and Verstappen.

However the team boss insisted that his relationship with Max is “absolutely fine” in their relationship.

“He’s working well within the team,” Horner added. “There’s no tension, there’s no stress, you can see how relaxed he is around the garage with everybody in the team and that’s translating to his performance on track as well.

“So we don’t see any issues with Max.”

Given that Verstappen has established himself as the dominant force in Formula 1, it is not surprising that Mercedes team boss Wolff is skulking amid the mayhem, stating, “I’d love to have him” as the 2025 replacement for Lewis Hamilton, who is headed to Ferrari.

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

“But we’re a team. Max has achieved his 56th Grand Prix victory today and his 100th podium, all of which have been in Red Bull Racing cars.

“And as a team, we perform exceptionally well together. And everybody has a role to play in that team. Whether it’s from the designers, the support staff, the operational staff, all the way through all the different 22 departments that make up Red Bull Racing.

“If everybody isn’t doing their part, you don’t have a performance like this. So as a team, we’re performing at an exceptionally high level. And we expect to see that continuing.”

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