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Max Verstappen may still leave Red Bull after F1 chaos – 'Never say never'


Christian Horner has refused to rule out the possibility of Max Verstappen leaving Red Bull. The decision not to suspend key ally Helmut Marko seems to have calmed tensions with the reigning world champion, but the team principal insisted that he would not force him to stay at Milton Keynes if his desires lay elsewhere.

Until this week, the speculation surrounding team principal Horner had not been but a distraction to Verstappen, but when Marko’s role with the organisation was brought into question, the three-time world champion laid out an ultimatum. 

The 26-year-old insisted that should Red Bull decide to part ways with Marko, it would make it impossible for him to continue with the team. Following a conversation with the energy drinks company’s managing director, Oliver Mintzlaff, in Saudi Arabia, the Austrian was cleared to continue in his role, easing fears that Verstappen could walk away.

Discussing Verstappen’s future after the Saudi Arabian GP, Horner said: “You can never say never. If a driver doesn’t want to be somewhere then they’ll go somewhere else. But I can’t see any reason why anybody would want to step out of this team. I think he’s got great support around him and he’s doing a wonderful job with a great car.”

The 50-year-old also touched on his personal relationship with the Dutchman, noting: “It’s absolutely fine with Max. He is working well within the team, there’s no tension, no stress.

“You can see how relaxed he is around the garage with everybody in the team and that’s translating to his performance on track as well. So we don’t see any issues with Max.”

He added: “It’s like anything in life, you can’t force somebody to be somewhere just because of a piece of paper. If somebody didn’t want to be in this team, then we’re not going to force somebody against their will to be here.

“That applies whether it is a machine operator or a designer or someone in one of the support functions, that runs through the business. Being involved in a team like this involves commitment and passion and Max has that, we have seen that – he’s been here since he was 18 years of age. I have no doubt of his commitment and passion going forward.”

Verstappen showed no signs of letting the off-track speculation affect his performance on Saturday. The Dutchman converted pole position to victory in imperious fashion once again, extending his lead over team-mate Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ Championship standings to 15 points. 

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