Max Verstappen
Red Bull's Max Verstappen has defended his dad's recent criticism of team principal, Christian Horner. Stephanie Lecocq/Reuters

Red Bull driver, Max Verstappen, has come out to defend his father, Jos, after the latter suggested that team principal and CEO, Christian Horner, be removed from his roles.

Horner has been under a large microscope recently due to allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards a female colleague, with the topic having dominated the build-up to the start of the 2024 Formula 1 season.

Last week, the 50-year-old was cleared through an independent investigation, but concerns remain amongst key figures in the sport due to a lack of transparency with the situation. Horner himself has repeatedly stated his innocence and has been keen to get on with his duties as usual.

Verstappen's opening race victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend was overshadowed by his father's comments. Jos told reporters at the race that Horner's continued presence would inevitably damage the morale within his son's team, as he accused the team principal of "playing the victim" and "causing problems."

Red Bull were forced to come out and deny Jos' claims and made it clear that there is still unity in the camp.

On Wednesday, ahead of the second F1 race of the season in Saudi Arabia, Verstappen publicly addressed his father's remarks for the first time.

When asked whether Jos regretted making them, the three-time world champion made it clear he is loyal to his dad, responding: "I have not asked him that but my dad, from how I know him in ­go‑­karting, is very outspoken and he is not a liar, that is for sure. My dad and I are very close. We call every day."

The 26-year-old went on to say: "As a son of my dad, it would be weird to be on a different side, but from my side I just want to focus on the performance side of things. I want to have less talk of what we are doing as a team outside of the track."

On Thursday, Horner also addressed Jos' comments as he attended a press conference ahead of the season's second race. The Red Bull CEO confirmed his knowledge of the comments from his lead driver's father.

Horner stressed a desire for the issue to be dissolved, commenting: "I spoke to Jos following the Grand Prix and I think it's in everyone's interest that we've agreed to focus on the future. We have a vested interest together to do the best for his son."

So far, the drama surrounding Horner has not had a negative impact on Red Bull's performances on the track. Verstappen picked up pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix before he and Sergio Perez ensured the team secured an impressive one-two finish in the race itself.

After making an appearance at the season opener in Bahrain, Jos will now be out of the public eye as he will not be present at this weekend's Grand Prix in Jeddah due to other commitments that he must attend to.

Despite Verstappen having a contract with Red Bull until 2028, the Dutchman has been linked with a move to Mercedes as the team will have an open driver slot for next season. This is as Lewis Hamilton will leave for Ferrari after this campaign.

There is reportedly a clause in Verstappen's contract that would allow him to leave Red Bull should the team's motorsport advisor and head of its driver development programme, Helmut Marko, depart.

Verstappen and Marko have a strong relationship, with the driver previously rallying for the Austrian to remain with Red Bull when there was an attempt seemingly led by Horner to remove Marko from the team.

Amidst the high levels of tension at Red Bull at this current moment, it does not seem impossible that Verstappen could race with another team after this season, especially if Horner stays on in his current role. The Dutch driver's loyalty to his dad and Marko means that a split from his current team could occur if tensions do not ease.