Dispute between father and Horner 'not nice' - Verstappen

Max Verstappen and Jos Verstappen
Jos (left) and Max Verstappen are at the Austrian Grand Prix [Getty Images]

Max Verstappen says the latest dispute between his father and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is "not nice" and "could have been avoided".

Jos pulled out of a parade of historic Formula 1 cars planned at the Austrian Grand Prix after he learned Horner had tried to block him from taking part.

Max said the row was "not nice - not for myself, not for my dad, not for Christian, not for the team".

"Of course you don't want these things to happen."

Jos, who drove in 106 grands prix between 1994 and 2003, had been scheduled to drive a 2012 title-winning Red Bull RB8 car in the parade.

But the 52-year-old decided to withdraw from the event when he learned Horner had approached a number of members of Red Bull senior management and said he did not think it was a good idea for him to be seen driving one of their cars.

Horner's objections were over-ruled, but it was decided images of Jos would not be filmed by Red Bull's cameras or broadcast on any of its channels.

Max said: "My dad has been quite clear about the reason behind it. Of course I can understand his opinion on that, because he got asked to drive the car then finds out he's not wanted to drive the car.

"My dad actually doesn't care about driving the car, but he got asked and [Red Bull Austria] said: 'Please do it for the fans - Dutch fans, blah, blah, blah'.

"Red Bull have a great relationship with [the] home track. So I understand.

"And on the other hand, I'm here, of course, to focus on the performance side of things. So I want a good relationship with everyone. But of course, this scenario could have been avoided."

The dispute between Horner and Jos Verstappen dates back to allegations of sexual harassment and coercive, controlling behaviour made against the Red Bull team principal by a female employee.

Horner has always denied the allegations, which were initially made in December last year and became public in early February, and a Red Bull internal investigation cleared him in late February.

A second investigation is ongoing after the complainant appealed.

At the Bahrain Grand Prix at the start of the season, Jos said he believed the team would be torn apart if Horner stayed in charge.

In May, Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey negotiated an exit from his contract. The allegations against Horner were one of Newey's main reasons for wanting to leave.

The 65-year-old, regarded as the greatest designer in the history of F1, will be free to join another team from March next year, in time to start working on a car for the new 2026 regulations.

Jos said at the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend: "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 nothing would be filmed.

"Then I think, 'say it to my face'. It doesn't have to be this way for me, I find it very disappointing."

Horner said there was "no veto from my side".

He added: "The relationship with Max has always been very good, very strong. He's the one that's important. I've never had an issue with any of our drivers' fathers in the past."

On Friday, Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko said the dispute was "a private matter between Jos and Christian, and [one] that shouldn't really take place at all about such trivial matters as a show run."

Does this affect Max's future?

The issue is bound up in the future of Verstappen's career.

The 26-year-old is known to have been unsettled by the allegations against Horner. He is contracted to Red Bull until the end of 2028 but Mercedes have made no secret of their desire to attract him to their team.

BBC Sport has been made aware that there is a contractual mechanism that would allow Verstappen to leave Red Bull whenever he wants, regardless of the duration of his contract.

On Thursday, he was engaged in a protracted exchange in the pre-event news conference in Austria in which he was quizzed on his intentions and whether he would still be driving for Red Bull in 2025.

After several questions and answers, he was asked to give a straightforward yes or no answer, to which he said: "OK - yes. We're already also working on next year's car, you know. I think when you're very focused on that, that means that you're also driving for the team."

Mercedes believe there is only a very slim chance of attracting Verstappen for next season, but have much bigger hopes they can persuade him to move for 2026, when new chassis and engine regulations come into force at the same time and could transform the competitive order.