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Mintzlaff in Saudi to Assess Red Bull Tensions

Mintzlaff’s Peace Mission at Red Bull, Honda Awaits Clarification

06/03/2024

As the Saudi Arabian GP approaches, Red Bull faces an escalating internal power struggle, pitting its Thai and Austrian factions against each other in a battle that shows no signs of abating.

The dispute engulfing Red Bull and Christian Horner, unveiling the depth of a power struggle within Red Bull, is expected to continue throughout and beyond this weekend’s Saudi Arabian GP.

On one side of the divide stands Red Bull’s 51 percent Thai owner, led by Chalerm Yoovidhya, who rushed to Bahrain last weekend to back the embattled Horner.

However, on the other side of this apparent power struggle is the Austrian faction, the minority shareholders who actually run the energy drink company.

Backed by Jos Verstappen and Dr. Helmut Marko, they will enjoy their own board-level support in Jeddah this weekend, with the presence of Oliver Mintzlaff – the new co-CEO of Red Bull in charge of sports, appointed following the late 2022 death of Dietrich Mateschitz.

Since Mateschitz’s passing, transferring his 49 percent stake to his son Mark, the Austrian and Thai factions have seemingly struggled to cooperate – with Yoovidhya reportedly vetoing Austrian efforts to oust Horner.

Mintzlaff is thus expected in Saudi Arabia this weekend, possibly to ease tensions, but it’s highly unlikely that an amicable resolution will be found among all parties.

Jos Verstappen will not be in Jeddah due to a rally commitment, but – like much of the F1 world – he was in Dubai this week. As expected, the world champion Max Verstappen’s father did not invite Horner to his 52nd birthday party, but Marko was present, along with many other Red Bull Racing managers and engineers.

Horner, for his part, met with Max’s manager, Raymond Vermeulen. A source stated that the meeting, which included other senior Red Bull officials, “went well but yielded little.”

The team’s engine partner for 2026, Ford, is publicly uncomfortable and angry about the Horner scandal, and even the existing supplier Honda now has concerns.

“We have not received any direct explanation from Red Bull on this matter,” stated Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) boss, Koji Watanabe.

“What we want is transparency. HRC also hopes that this issue will be resolved as soon as possible. We have an upcoming meeting, so I think we should mention it.”

Amid the turmoil, Dr. Helmut Marko insists that the current F1 team “continues to function well.”

“When it comes to the track, everyone is fully focused and knows what they need to do. All the disturbing noise is blocked out.”

Can the Austrian confirm if there’s a clause in Max Verstappen’s contract allowing him to leave if he decides to do so?

“I’m not going to comment on that. I maintain my ‘no comment!’ on this topic as well. The fact is, there’s a great trust bond between Max and me.”

“I won’t say anything about it until the matter is finalized.”

But wasn’t the matter already finalized?

“OK, then I misspoke. So, we’ll stick to ‘no comment!’.”

Regarding Gerhard Berger’s theory that sees Horner staying thanks to the Thais, potentially leading to Verstappen, Marko, and Newey leaving, Marko admits: “that’s an interesting variant!”

Mintzlaff in Saudi to Assess Red Bull Tensions. Mintzlaff in Saudi to Assess Red Bull Tensions

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