Hamilton: Jos Verstappen’s involvement in Horner F1 controversy and his son’s team is “a very thin line to walk”

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
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Soon-to-be Ferrari driver Lewis Hamilton has recently weighed in on the Red Bull Racing and Christian Horner situation, claiming that the speculation will be ‘affecting everybody’.

Allegations by an employee against Horner of inappropriate behaviour prompted an investigation that lasted eight weeks, but the outcome Red Bull came to cleared Horner of any wrongdoing.

However, despite being cleared by the team, a collection of private images and messages via a Google Drive folder surfaced just 24 hours later, reigniting the controversy, and calling Red Bull’s decision into question.The content was sent to F1 personnel, team principals, and the media, and quickly found its way onto social media, where it was scrutinised in the public sphere.

This development fuelled speculation and intensified calls for Horner’s resignation, with Max Verstappen’s father Jos, and motorsport advisor, Helmut Marko, weighing in on the controversy. Talking directly about Horner, Jos Verstappen said: “He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems.”

Speaking about Jos Verstappen, Hamilton noted that: “He’s not a part of the team, he’s a parent. And so that’s just an opinion, but it’s definitely not helpful.”

Hamilton, no stranger to internal F1 politics, understands the impact that controversies can have on a racing team, and reflected on his past experiences, particularly during his time with McLaren when legendary figure Ron Dennis was heading for the exit, drawing some parallels to the current problems at Red Bull.

“Just from my experience, having gone through something similar back in the day when I was at McLaren… our leader was in question, they were going through a difficult time and it affected everybody,” Hamilton said ahead of the Saudi Arabian GP.

“So, whether or not it is there, I have been in an experience where I remember when we were losing Ron, for example, and the things Ron was going through and the steps we had to take, it affected all of us.”

Hamilton emphasised the pivotal role of leadership in steering a team towards success:“A leader is super important because they set the tone, they make sure the team sticks to the core values of what the sport is about and integrity.”Whilst there are loads of people further down the trough that are just as important, that leader is key to the destination you are working towards.”

With Horner’s position under scrutiny, the stability of the team hangs in the balance.The spotlight on parental involvement in F1 careers shines on Max Verstappen, with his father and former F1 driver Jos involving himself in the controversy surrounding Horner.

Hamilton navigated the early stages of his career under the guidance of his father Anthony, but the pair decided that familial management was not the best choice for Hamilton’s development. The original arrangement had put stress on their relationship and caused them to change to professional management, an example of the challenges and evolution that drivers face throughout their careers.

“I think it is a very thin line to walk,” Hamilton claimed, speaking about the challenges of having a parent deeply involved in a driver’s career.

“You meet some people who have a great relationship with their parents, and they’ve been amazing parents, and then you’ve got people that have had bad relationships. And this is not necessarily parents that have been good to them.

“So, I don’t know about his [Verstappen’s] relationships. Obviously, you hear things here and there. But Max is a grown man, and he’s a champion, and I’m sure he can make his own decisions.

“But I think in our world, as drivers, it’s very, very easy to be misled by people whispering in your ear, and perhaps not guiding you always the right way.

“I’m not saying it’s the case there, because they’re doing great. But I know in sports, other athletes that I’ve spoken to that I see, whether it’s in tennis, and I’ve experienced it, when you sometimes don’t have the right guidance around you, it leads to you either making the wrong decisions, or not being able to perhaps be the best at what you do.

“But that’s obviously clearly not the case there, he’s performing well. So it is very difficult, because you want your parent to be your parent, and have a good relationship. But when business is involved, it makes it really difficult.