Horner ‘can’t force’ Verstappen to stay at Red Bull

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has conceded he “can’t force” Max Verstappen to remain with the team, should he wish to leave.

The Milton Keynes-based outfit has been embroiled in turmoil in the past month following allegations made against Horner of inappropriate behaviour, though the case was dismissed after an investigation conducted independently, launched by Red Bull GmbH.

But the fallout has seen tensions rise between separate powers within Red Bull, with Horner, Jos Verstappen and Helmut Marko all caught up.

With Marko under fire over a potential suspension – which has now been confirmed not to be the case – at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, three-time champion Max launched a passionate defence of the Austrian and suggested he would leave if the motorsport advisor departed.

Given Verstappen’s apparent reluctance to give Horner a similar defence in Bahrain, Horner was questioned over whether there was any tension existing in the relationship.

“It’s absolutely fine with Max,” Horner told media including RacingNews365.

“He is working well within the team, there’s no tension, 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.”

‘No doubt of commitment’

Addressing the potential of Verstappen departing before the end of his contract, which expires in 2028, Horner insisted: “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 in this team, then we’re not going to force somebody against their will to be here.

“That applies whether it is a machine operator or a designer or someone 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 have seen that – he’s been here since he was 18 years of age.

“I have no doubt of his commitment and passion going forward.”

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