Christian Horner denies blocking Jos Verstappen from legends’ parade in Austria

Christian Horner has denied he pulled the plug on Max Verstappen’s father, Jos, taking part in a legends’ parade prior to Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

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But Verstappen Snr, 52, has withdrawn from the event after he was quoted in the Dutch media as claiming that Horner did not want him to participate.

Jos Verstappen (right) pictured with his son, Max
Jos Verstappen (right) pictured with his son, Max, has reignited his feud with Christian Horner (David Davies/PA)

Responding to Verstappen Snr’s comments, Red Bull team principal Horner said: “The legends’ parade is something that is organised by the circuit and there was no veto from my side or anything like that.

“My relationship with Max has always been very good and very strong and he is a key part of our team. 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 is making only his second appearance in the paddock since 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, a team-mate of Michael Schumacher’s in the 1990s, is known to have sounded out Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff about a move from Red Bull to the Silver Arrows following the scandal.

However, his son, under contract until 2028, insisted on Thursday that he has no immediate plans to quit Red Bull.

Mercedes have a vacant seat alongside George Russell next year following Lewis Hamilton’s shock transfer to Ferrari, and Wolff has made no secret of his desire to sign Verstappen.

Lewis Hamilton has agreed to join Ferrari
Lewis Hamilton has agreed to join Ferrari in 2025 (David Davies/PA)

But Horner continued: “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 driver (Hamilton) that has created the movement in the market had all of the information about the Mercedes engine for 2026, and he chose to leave.

“That has led to speculation as to who will fill that seat, but it won’t be Max Verstappen. And if he (Wolff) does want a Verstappen next year, then I guess Jos is potentially available.”