In the eye of the Red Bull storm, Max Verstappen misses the calm. Even before the second round of the Formula 1 season in Saudi Arabia, the triple champion is still surrounded by questions about the affair surrounding his team boss Christian Horner and speculation about his possible departure from the world champion racing team.

“It would be important that we finally talk about our great car, hardly anyone mentions that,” said Verstappen, almost pleadingly, during his media audience before the Grand Prix in Jeddah on Saturday (6 p.m./Sky). For Verstappen, the ongoing whirlwind is an annoying nuisance on the way to his fourth title in a row. His overwhelming dominance last season, when he won 19 of the 22 races, continued at the season opener in Bahrain. In Sakhir he was more than 22 seconds ahead of his teammate Sergio Pérez – that’s worlds in Formula 1. The racing series already has to plan for another title bore.

Attacks by Verstappen’s father against team boss

The spotlights are all the more focused on what’s happening off the track. The soap opera surrounding Red Bull racing director Horner, Papa Jos’ poison arrows, the raging rumors about talks about a move to Mercedes – all of this annoys someone like Verstappen, who is actually only interested in pure racing. “We should leave behind everything that everyone in Bahrain said,” warned the 26-year-old, rather in vain.

Because father Jos, a man with sometimes rabid views, can no longer work with team boss Horner, his son’s present and future at Red Bull are also being questioned. “It can’t go on like this, the situation will explode,” complained Jos Verstappen, a former Formula 1 teammate of Michael Schumacher, in the direction of Horner and sent along a rather blatant demand for his resignation. The 52-year-old assured Filius Max that he was aware of these views.

“Basically things can be clarified”

“I am my father’s son. It would be strange if I were on a different side,” said Max Verstappen after a short break together in Dubai. “My father and I are very close, we talk every day,” he said. Jos Verstappen was very frank and assessed the situation at Red Bull exactly the same way. “My dad is not a liar,” emphasized Verstappen.

Third in the group is his manager Raymond Vermeulen, who has accompanied Verstappen for a long time. According to the media, the advisor met with Horner at the beginning of the week to discuss matters. If the team boss wants to stay in office long-term and keep his chief pilot, he will also have to get the relationship with his father Jos and Vermeulen right. “I don’t see myself in Formula 1 without her by my side,” said Max Verstappen. But he says: “Basically, things can always be clarified. Anyone is enough for that.”

Verstappen counters Mercedes rumors

The fact that his father was spotted in Bahrain talking to Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff promptly fueled the rumors of emigration. Even the influential Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko, who promoted Verstappen’s career and is considered one of Horner’s opponents internally, described the Mercedes theory on broadcaster oe24 as “an interesting variant”.

However, Max Verstappen asserted that he currently has no intention of getting out of his contract with Red Bull, which runs until 2028. “I know what they have done for me in my career. The intention is absolutely to stay with this team,” said the defending champion. Small caveat: “As long as we perform as well as we can, there’s no reason to leave.”

This means: If Red Bull continues to provide Verstappen with a winning car and the noise about the power struggle in the team soon dies down, the superstar will remain loyal to the racing team. “It would be good if we as a team talked less about the things that are outside the track,” demanded Verstappen. This wish is likely to remain unfulfilled in Saudi Arabia.