Calm Verstappen laughs off rumours amid Red Bull turmoil

Amidst a whirlwind of speculation and rumors surrounding Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen shares insights on navigating the team’s current turbulent phase. The air of unrest and power dynamics within the team seems to have simmered down in Melbourne, yet the paddock is abuzz with quieter speculative whispers.

Contrary to expectations that Max’s father, Jos Verstappen, known for his fiery demeanor, would grace the F1 paddock in Melbourne following his rally engagements, he is notably absent so far. Instead, Max was seen sharing a jovial moment with Christian Horner, who’s been at the center of the team’s controversies, and his manager Raymond Vermeulen at Albert Park.

Matthias Janisch, a sports editor for Kleine Zeitung, suggests that despite the outward appearances, dissatisfaction lingers. He asserts, “But no one seems to be really happy with the current situation. That’s why the next twist in the power struggle is probably only a matter of time.”

Intriguingly, Austrian media are abuzz with reports that Horner and Red Bull’s powerful Thai co-owner are contemplating elevating Horner to a ‘super CEO’ role that would span the entire energy drink conglomerate. This strategic move may also see the company’s headquarters transition from Salzburg to Thailand, potentially for tax advantages.

Verstappen, however, aims to keep a distance from these corporate maneuvers, focusing instead on the race track. “As far as I know it has been managed in the right way so far,” he comments to an eager crowd of journalists in Melbourne. He exudes confidence in his current season, emphasizing, “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,” highlighting his leadership in the 2024 championship.

Despite Mercedes’ Toto Wolff expressing interest in welcoming Verstappen, Max remains undistracted, valuing the mutual respect that persists despite competitive tensions. “It’s always nice to hear that,” Verstappen remarks, “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. But for me, it won’t change anything.”

Verstappen underscores the importance of unity within Red Bull, amidst speculations of key figure Adrian Newey’s advanced negotiations with Ferrari. He declines to specify individuals, believing their significance is widely recognized. “Many people,” he states. “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.”

Despite the ongoing saga, Verstappen describes Red Bull as his “second family,” acknowledging that disagreements are part of familial dynamics. He expresses a deep-seated comfort with the team, aspiring to see his contract through to the end as a testament to loyalty and belonging.

Addressing the broader discussions about Red Bull’s leadership challenges, Verstappen chooses to remain on the periphery. “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.”

—GMM

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