Verstappen ‘fully focused’ on job at hand amid Horner turmoil

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Max Verstappen insists his Red Bull team and himself are “fully focused” on delivering a winning start to their 2024 campaign in Bahrain despite team boss Christian Horner’s continued presence in the spotlight.

Verstappen secured pole position for Saturday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, momentarily shifting the narrative away from the controversy surrounding Horner.

However, the latter’s future with Red Bull remains under scrutiny after the controversy involving the Briton took an ugly turn on Thursday.

A day after Horner was cleared by Red Bull GmbH of allegations of inappropriate behaviour following an internal investigation, hundreds of WhatsApp messages, purportedly written by the Red Bull team principle to a female colleague, were leaked to 147 members of the F1 paddock.

When questioned on Friday shortly after claiming pole position for Saturday’s race about the impact of these new allegations, Verstappen sidestepped the topic, emphasizing his and the team’s focus on the race.

“From my side, and, from the mechanics and engineers, we’re fully focused on the car, and fully focused on the weekend which is how it should be and that is what we continue to do,” commented the Dutchman.

“It’s not our business to get involved in that. We are paid to do our job, that is what we are out there doing, and that is what we love doing and that is what I focus on.”

Pressed on the issue, the three-time world champion alluded to Horner’s unquestionable contribution to Red Bull’s unwavering success in Formula 1.

"Listen, when I look at how Christian operates within the team, he has been an incredible team boss," he responded.

"So absolutely, from the performance side of things, you can't even question that.

“I speak to Christian a lot and he is fully committed to the team. He is here for the performance, and of course he is a little bit distracted, but we just focus on performance and that is how we all work together.”

On Saturday afternoon, just hours before the start of this evening’s round of racing in Bahrain, Horner’s wife Geri Halliwell appeared in the paddock in an apparent gesture of support for her husband. The pair were pictured walking hand-in-hand down the paddock’s main aisle.

As a reminder, Horner, who has always denied the allegations, refused to comment on the latest twist in the saga.

A statement read by a Red Bull team member on Thursday quoted Horner saying: “I will not comment on anonymous speculation, but to reiterate I have always denied the allegations.

“I respected the integrity of the independent investigation and fully cooperated with it every step of the way. It was a thorough and fair investigation conducted by an independent specialist barrister, and it has concluded dismissing the complaint made. I remain fully focused on the start of the season.”

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