Verstappen ’hasn’t said a word’ about Red Bull exit - CEO

"Things just need to calm down again"


5 May 2024 - 11:48
Verstappen 'hasn't said (...)

Max Verstappen has not "said a word" about wanting to leave Red Bull’s dominant Formula 1 team, according to a top CEO of the famous energy drink company.

Oliver Mintzlaff, one of the direct successors put in place in the wake of founder Dietrich Mateschitz’s death, made a rare visit to the F1 paddock this weekend and scolded Toto Wolff for making "inappropriate" comments about wanting to poach the triple world champion.

But when asked if he’s afraid of losing the Dutch driver, Mintzlaff told Bild am Sonntag newspaper at the Miami GP: "No. He is a thoroughbred racer and wants to win every race, every qualifying session and every practice session.

"That is what ties us together. It is in his and our DNA, and he has found the perfection conditions with us. We have created a unique setup and built the best car in Formula 1."

Verstappen has a long and lucrative contract through 2028, but it reportedly contains several exit clauses that might allow him to escape prematurely.

"Max still has a long-term contract here," Mintzlaff said, "and he hasn’t said a word about not wanting to fulfil it. I’m not even remotely worried that he’s considering a move.

"Things just need to calm down again," said the German amid the ongoing leadership power struggle, which clearly contributed to Adrian Newey’s exit.

"Max wants it to calm down too, and we do we. That’s what you need if you want to be successful in sport in the long term, whether it’s football or Formula 1."

Verstappen, 26, said in Miami that running around in the middle of the pack in a Mercedes would be "irritating", and he also denied that he’d do it for extra millions.

"No," said Mintzlaff when asked if Verstappen might have other reasons to want to join Mercedes. "At least I can’t think of any.

"Max wants the fastest car - we have that. Max wants to be world champion - with us he has the best chance. And Max is also a loyal guy.

"He knows that Christian Horner and Helmut Marko have always put their trust in him. He appreciates that. Red Bull is also simply a great brand that he can really identify with.

"So there are many reasons for staying, and none against it," he insisted.

However, it is often suggested that Verstappen’s true loyalty lies with 80-year-old mentor Dr Helmut Marko, who Toto Wolff says can accompany Max to Mercedes.

"I think that’s out of the question," Mintzlaff insists. "Helmut is closely connected to Red Bull and we have a lot to thank him for. He also had the courage to entrust Max with a Formula 1 cockpit at the age of 17."

He also suggests that the furore surrounding team boss Christian Horner now seems to be receding.

When asked if Red Bull can remain successful with Horner at the helm, Mintzlaff replied: "I am convinced of that. He only has the team’s success in mind and is a very good CEO."

Horner, however, is overseeing the development of Red Bull’s very own Formula 1 engine in collaboration with Ford for 2026 and beyond, and it’s rumoured that Verstappen is nervous that it may not be competitive.

"We want to continue in 2026 where we are now - at the top of Formula 1," Mintzlaff said. "Of course there is no guarantee, but while we have proven that we can handle major rule changes, other teams have not managed to close the gap to us for three years.

"Max will have noticed that too and it makes me look to the future with total optimism. We have been preparing for 2026 for a long time, and while building our own engine is a big task and challenge, we are confident that we can master it.

"This is the next stage of Red Bull’s development."

Red Bull


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