Max Verstappen refused FIA president’s request to publicly back Christian Horner amid Formula 1 controversy

Max Verstappen has refused a request from FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem to publicly back Christian Horner.

The news comes just a day after Verstappen’s father Jos publicly attacked Horner, saying the team would ‘explode’ if he didn’t step aside.

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Verstappen allegedly refused a request from Ben Sulayem to back HornerCredit: Getty

De Telegraaf, the outlet who first reported an investigation into inappropriate behaviour by Horner on February 6, made the claim which has been supported by the BBC.

On Wednesday, a day before cars hit the track for practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Horner was cleared of wrongdoing by an independent international investigation.

However, just 24 hours later, images were sent to journalists and high-ranking officials at Formula 1 and the FIA alleging to show inappropriate behaviour.

Responding to the news, Horner put out a statement saying: “I won’t comment on anonymous speculation, but to reiterate, I have always denied the allegations.

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“I respected the integrity of the independent investigation and fully cooperated with it every step of the way.

“It was a thorough and fair investigation conducted by an independent specialist barrister and it has concluded, dismissing the complaint made.”

Horner’s Red Bull went on to dominate the first race of the season, with champion Max Verstappen winning by a huge margin from teammate Sergio Perez on Saturday.

Horner maintained that he would stay in position as Red Bull Racing team principal and CEO after meetings with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Ben Sulayem.

Jos Verstappen has admitted to the BBC that he fell out with Horner

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Jos Verstappen has admitted to the BBC that he fell out with HornerCredit: Getty

However, Verstappen Snr’s comments suggest that all is not well, with the former driver admitting to the BBC that he fell out with Horner in Bahrain.

Also speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: “There is tension here while he remains in position.

“The team is in danger of being torn apart. It can’t go on the way it is. It will explode. He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems.”

Things have now been further complicated by the claim that Ben Sulayem has put pressure on Verstappen Jr to back Horner, only to be rejected.

Verstappen was asked about the situation during the weekend, and failed to fully back his long-time team manager.

“From my side, and I think what I can see also from the mechanics and the engineers, we are fully focused on the car and the performance here during the weekend,” he said.

“And that’s how it should be, I think, and that’s what we continue to do, because it’s not our business. We’re not particularly involved in that.

“And we are here, we are paid to do our job, and that’s what we are doing and that’s also what we love doing. So that’s what we focus on.”



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