F1 Austrian GP live updates: Verstappen tops FP1, sprint qualifying underway

A change in the ‘Legends Parade’ plan at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix has renewed tensions between Red Bull Formula One boss Christian Horner and Max Verstappen’s father, Jos.

In the wake of a female employee’s allegations against Horner, an internal investigation at the start of the season, and the subsequent dismissal of the grievance, Jos Verstappen said in Bahrain that Red Bull risked being “torn apart” if Horner remained in charge.

Jos Verstappen has only attended one race since Bahrain, which was May’s Monaco Grand Prix, but was back in the paddock on Thursday in Austria for Red Bull’s home race weekend.

The elder Verstappen was due to take part in the annual ‘Legends Parade’ that is part of the Austrian Grand Prix undercard, driving a Red Bull RB8 car from 2012 alongside Gerhard Berger, David Coulthard, Emerson Fittipaldi and Johnny Herbert on Saturday and Sunday.

But in an interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf on Friday in Austria, Verstappen said he was no longer taking part in the parade, claiming Horner had done “everything he can not to let me drive” or for him to be filmed.

Verstappen Sr. and Horner were firmly on separate sides of the power struggle that unfolded at Red Bull in the early part of the year but has since considerably cooled.

In Friday’s FIA news conference, Horner denied that he’d vetoed Verstappen’s participation in the Legends Parade, saying it is an event organized by the circuit. “There was no veto from my side or anything like that,” Horner said. “And I’m sure the Legends will be in action later.”

Horner was repeatedly asked about his relationship with Jos Verstappen Thursday through the news conference but preferred to focus on Max, with whom he claimed to have a “very good, very strong” relationship. “I’ve never had an issue with any of our drivers’ fathers in the past,” Horner said. “Whatever Jos’s issues are, I’ve really got nothing to comment on.”

Asked where the relationship with Jos Verstappen had broken down and gone wrong, Horner replied: “I don’t think it’s really helpful to continue talking on the topic of Jos.

“I think our focus is very much on Max. He’s our driver, he’s who we have a contract with, and he’s who we’re focused on trying to win this grand prix with.”

On Thursday, Max Verstappen gave the clearest indication yet that he will remain with Red Bull for next year despite sustained interest from Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff in signing the Dutchman.

Horner brushed off Wolff’s continued comments as being “purely a tactic of distraction.”

“If he does want a Verstappen for next year, then I guess Jos is potentially available,” Horner added.

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