Max Verstappen remained tight-lipped over support for Red Bull’s Horner

<span>Lewis Hamilton, Alexander Albon, Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen during a press conference ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.</span><span>Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters</span>
Lewis Hamilton, Alexander Albon, Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen during a press conference ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Max Verstappen declined to deliver his unequivocal support for Christian Horner on Wednesday, just hours before his Red Bull team principal was exonerated of any wrongdoing by an independent investigation into allegations of inappropriate controlling behaviour made against him by a female member of staff.

The inquiry began on 1 February after a complaint made by a female employee of Red Bull Racing made the allegations to the team’s parent company Red Bull GmbH. No details of the allegations were released other than it is understood they referred to alleged “controlling” behaviour by Horner.

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An unnamed English barrister conducted the investigation which included an extensive interview with Horner lasting over eight hours.

Verstappen, however, did not offer unequivocal support for his team principal during the FIA press conference at the Bahrain International circuit. When he was asked if he was 100% behind Horner and how he ran the team, the world champion offered only his backing for the investigation then currently taking place.

“Well I’m trusting the process, that’s what’s happening right now,” he said.

Horner was instrumental in bringing Verstappen into F1 and then into the Red Bull team when he was promoted from Toro Rosso in 2016. He has overseen the Dutchman winning three consecutive world championships with the team Horner joined as principal when it was formed in 2005.

When he was asked to elaborate on the process and whether he had full confidence in Horner he declined to elaborate once more.

“I do not want to get into that,” he said. “Because it’s not my case anyway, and I don’t want to be involved with that. But as a team we do trust that process and we just have to be patient, because there’s no need to start saying things, start screaming things out loud. You have to be patient.”

Lewis Hamilton, also at the press conference, described the investigation and how Red Bull and F1 deal with it as crucial in F1’s commitment to diversity.

The seven-time title winner, who begins his final season with Mercedes this week having signed for Ferrari in 2025, has been a champion of inclusivity and diversity with F1 and emphasised he believed this represented an important moment for the sport.

“We always have to do more to try to make the sport and the environment people work in feel safe and inclusive,” he said. “Any allegations have to be taken very seriously. Obviously we don’t know everything that’s gone on. But it does need to be resolved as it’s hanging over the sport and it will be really interesting to see how it’s dealt in terms the effect it may or may not have on the sport moving forwards. It’s a really important moment for the sport to make sure that we stand true to our values.”