Jos Verstappen renews feud with Christian Horner after being ‘cut out’ of Red Bull legends parade

Jos Verstappen renews feud with Christian Horner after being ‘cut out’ of Red Bull legends parade

Max Verstappen (right), race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase (centre) and Jos deep in conversation in the Red Bull garage – Getty Images/Mark Thompson

Max Verstappen’s father Jos has reignited his feud with Christian Horner by accusing the Red Bull team principal of forcing him out of a legends parade at the Austrian Grand Prix.

“Horner did everything he could to not let me drive,” Verstappen Snr told Dutch media, in his latest attack on the Briton who was embroiled in allegations of inappropriate behaviour brought by a colleague earlier this year.

Horner, however, immediately denied pulling the plug. “The legends’ parade is something that is organised by the circuit and there was no veto from my side or anything like that,” Horner told reporters in Austria.

Verstappen Snr had been set to drive the Red Bull machine which carried Sebastian Vettel to the world championship in 2012 ahead of the team’s home race in Spielberg this weekend.

But the 52-year-old withdrew from the event after he was quoted claiming that Horner did not want him to participate. “In the past few days I’ve heard from several sides that Christian Horner did everything he could to not let me drive and otherwise to make sure that nothing would be filmed,” he told Dutch outlet De Telegraaf. “Then I think, ‘say it to my face’. It doesn’t have to be this way for me, I find it very disappointing.”

Horner appeared bemused by the claim on Friday. “My relationship with Max has always been very good and very strong and he is a key part of our team,” said the Red Bull boss. “He is our driver and he is the one that is important to have a strong relationship with. I have never had an issue with any of our drivers’ fathers in the past, but whatever Jos’ issues are, I really don’t have anything to comment on.

“We have enjoyed tremendous success despite the distractions of this year. We have won 70 per cent of the races so far, and lead both world championships. You cannot control everything in life and I cannot control relationships with drivers’ fathers.”

Verstappen Snr has only been seen in the paddock twice he claimed at the season-opening round in Bahrain that Red Bull would “explode” if Horner remained in his post.

Horner was exonerated by the racing team’s parent company, Red Bull GmbH, of alleged controlling behaviour against a female colleague before WhatsApp messages pertaining to be exchanged between him and his complainant were leaked.

Verstappen Snr (right) was pictured having a heated discussion with Horner at the Bahrain Grand Prix – Getty Images/Clive Rose

However, Verstappen Snr, a team-mate of Michael Schumacher’s in the 1990s, is known to have since sounded out Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff about a move from Red Bull to the Silver Arrows.

However, his son, under contract until 2028, insisted on Thursday that he has no immediate plans to quit Red Bull. Horner added on Friday: “Max was resolute in what he said in his press conference yesterday and he has always been absolutely consistent in that with the team. It is purely a tactic of distraction from Toto and you have to question what are the motives behind that?”

The legends parade has become an annual event ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, which sees drivers take numerous famous cars around the track at the Red Bull Ring. Two-time champion Emerson Fittipaldi and race winners David Coulthard, Johnny Herbert and Gerhard Berger are due to take part.

Verstappen Snr and Horner – the two figures who helped power star driver Max to three consecutive world championships – had been at loggerheads since March. Witnesses clocked a heated conversation in the Red Bull principal’s office at the paddock, which prompted Jos to storm out. He later returned to shake hands with Horner, but their relationship was said to be severed beyond repair after he went public with his concerns.

Verstappen Snr told the Daily Mail at the time that Red Bull would “explode” if the beleaguered Briton remained in position. “He is playing the victim when he is the one causing problems,” the 52-year-old told the newspaper.

Verstappen Snr, the three-times married father of five, is no stranger to controversy himself. After a 1998 fight at a go-kart track, Verstappen was issued with a five-year non-custodial sentence by a Belgian court. “Verstappen was found guilty of fracturing the victim’s skull,” assistant public prosecutor Cedric Stuyck told the Reuters news agency in 2000.

In 2008, Verstappen was then reportedly hit with a three-month suspended sentence for threatening Sophie Kumpen, who is Max’s mother, and violating a previously-issued restraining order.

In November 2011, Verstappen denied allegations he assaulted an unnamed 24-year-old girlfriend in a hotel room in Venlo, Holland. In January 2012, he was arrested for attempted murder following claims that he drove a car into his ex-girlfriend in the Dutch city of Roermond. He was released after two weeks in jail when the charge was withdrawn because of a lack of evidence.

Verstappen contested 107 grands prix, achieving two podium finishes and scoring 17 championship points, with a highest qualifying position of sixth at the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix. But guiding his son Max to the top of the sport ranks as his biggest achievement.

“Max was my life project,” he said in 2019. “I wanted to win with him, become a champion. We had a goal together. I found the time with Max much more fun than my own career. Put it this way: I did more for Max’s career than for my own career.”

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