Horner labels Wolff’s talk of signing Verstappen a ‘distraction tactic’

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes his Mercedes opposite number Toto Wolff has been talking about the potential of signing Max Verstappen to try and distract from his own team’s recent struggles.

Verstappen (at right, above, with Horner and Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko, at left) was linked to a possible move to Mercedes earlier this year amid the controversy surrounding Horner’s behavior and a wider power battle within Red Bull, with Wolff publicly stating he’d like to sign the three-time world champion to replace Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton. After Verstappen insisted he would be driving for Red Bull in 2025, Wolff still questioned whether that was the case, but Horner says there’s no chance the Dutchman will be racing for Mercedes next year.

“It only re-affirms everything that we already know,” Horner said. “Max is an important part of our team. He’s had all of his victories and podiums in Red Bull Racing cars, his three world championships so far, and he’s a crucial member of the team. He enjoys being part of the team. He’s got a tremendous group around him. And we know what the future looks like.


“Obviously, a lot of noise has been made about him going elsewhere. And sometimes, one just thinks that that’s a distraction tactic that’s just thrown in because you have to question what are the motives obviously behind that.

“The driver that’s created all the movement in the market had all the information about the engines and 2026 regulations and so on and chose to leave and left the vacancy at Mercedes, which is why there has now been obviously a little bit of speculation as to who will fill that seat. But it won’t be Max Verstappen.”

Horner was pressed on his relationship with Jos Verstappen — Max’s father — who is at the Austrian Grand Prix and scheduled to take part in a legends parade for Red Bull, but while he wouldn’t be drawn on his personal relationship with Verstappen Sr., he did joke that he could be the one to join Mercedes.

“The relationship with Max has always been very good, very strong. He’s a key part of our team and he’s our driver. He’s the one that is important, obviously, to have a strong relationship with. I’ve never had an issue with any of our drivers’ fathers in the past. And whatever Jos’s issues are, I’ve really got nothing to comment on.

“I thought Max was pretty resolute in what he said. He’s always been absolutely consistent with that with the team. So, yeah, why Toto? I think it’s purely a tactic of distraction. Of course, if he does want a Verstappen for next year, then I guess Jos is potentially available.”

Story originally appeared on Racer