FIA president asked Max Verstappen to publicly back under-fire Christian Horner

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem reportedly approached Max Verstappen amid the controversy surrounding Red Bull's Christian Horner.

(L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing with Mohammed Bin Sulayem (UAE) FIA President in qualifying parc ferme.
(L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing with Mohammed Bin Sulayem …

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem asked Max Verstappen to back Red Bull team principal Christian Honer publicly during the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.

Red Bull’s three-time world champion Verstappen was seen in discussion with the president of F1’s governing body after he claimed pole position in qualifying on Friday night.

Ben Sulayem reportedly told Verstappen “You must publicly back Christian.”, according to the Daily Mail.

On Sunday Dutch publication De Telegraaf was the first to report Ben Sulayem’s request to Verstappen, and BBC Sport says it has independently verified the story.

Verstappen went on to only give qualified support to Horner when he was grilled about his under-fire team boss during the press conference that followed qualifying.

The Dutchman was repeatedly asked whether he had full faith in Horner’s leadership of Red Bull and said: "From the performance side of things, you can't even question that. So that's what I'm also dealing with."

A complaint of inappropriate behaviour against Horner was dismissed on Wednesday but 24 hours later an anonymous email including WhatsApp messages purporting to involve the 50-year-old were leaked.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing with Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal. Formula 1 World
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing with Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull…

Horner, who has repeatedly denied the allegations made against him, refused to comment on what he said were “anonymous, speculative messages from an unknown source.”

The controversy escalated after the Bahrain Grand Prix when Jos Verstappen, Max’s father, spoke out against Horner.

Verstappen Sr denied he was behind the email leak and told the Daily Mail that Red Bull would “explode” if Horner remained in position.

"The team is in danger of being torn apart,” he added. “It can't go on the way it is. It will explode. He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems."

Verstappen has reportedly told friends that his son could be forced to leave Red Bull if the Horner situation isn’t resolved.

Verstappen Sr was spotted deep in conversation with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff in the Bahrain paddock and there were rumours of a dinner meeting between the pair on Friday night.

This has led to frenzied speculation that Mercedes could be trying to line up the reigning world champion as a replacement for Lewis Hamilton, who is joining Ferrari next year. 

Read More