Mar.4 - Ralf Schumacher suspects Mercedes and the Verstappen camp are "already in negotiations" for a sensational switch from Red Bull to Mercedes.

In Bahrain, the embattled Christian Horner orchestrated the appearance of unity, support and harmony - amid a scandal and alleged affair with a female staff member that threatens to end his entire Formula 1 career.

"Does Formula 1 need this Horner case?" wondered veteran Blick journalist Roger Benoit. "No, if it's just rumours and speculation. Yes, if grievances and misconduct are uncovered."

Officially, Red Bull has exonerated team boss Horner for alleged contract-breaching bad behaviour, with the team now trying to close the book on the matter.

"There is no issue and we are focusing on the racing," a spokesman for the team said. "The team is united."

But it certainly didn't look united upon closer inspection behind the scenes in Bahrain, with Horner and Jos Verstappen - Max Verstappen's father - locked in several one-on-one heated discussions in the paddock.

Jos was also seen chatting to Toto Wolff - a former nemesis from the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP fiasco - immediately after Saturday's race, with the Mercedes boss answering "Everything is possible" when asked about the possibility of the triple world champion leaving Red Bull for 2025.

"To me, that means they are already in negotiations," former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher told Sky Deutschland. "That's plan B if everything else falls apart."

There are now rumours that Jos, who denied the charge on Saturday when he told the Daily Mail that he wants Horner to quit, also knows the unnamed female at the centre of the allegations personally.

"That (email) leak was sent to all the most important people in Formula 1," Schumacher said. "You have to get them first. This is a classic political murder."

Another rumour is that FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem asked Verstappen, 26, to come out and publicly support Horner's ongoing status at the top of Red Bull Racing.

Max apparently said no.

"Horner is now required to draw conclusions," Schumacher said. "I believe that when you see how bad the mood is against him, he is untenable and should resign in the interests of the team."

Ralf said he noticed in parc ferme that Red Bull is now visibly divided into two camps - with the Verstappens, Dr Helmut Marko and even Adrian Newey on one side, and Horner and Red Bull's majority Thai shareholder on the other.

"The danger is quite simply that some parties now want to leave and look for new things, new teams, new tasks," Schumacher surmised.

He also thinks Thai co-owner Chalerm Yoovidhya, who like Horner was in Bahrain with his own wife, should recognise that it "makes no sense to hold on to Christian Horner".

Interestingly, as the Horner affair continues to publicly draw in additional figures including himself, Wolff has now stepped away to a degree in the most recent hours.

"Let's see where this goes in the next few days," the Mercedes boss told Austrian broadcaster ORF. "I would very much hope that the governing body and the commercial rights holder set the compass right.

"I am probably not doing any good to the whole issue, because then it could be seen as this just being about a power fight within Formula 1," Wolff added. "That's why it should not be in the team's (Red Bull's) hands.

"It's a much bigger topic than that and I don't want to diminish the whole situation by making it seem like the Mercedes guy is talking about the Red Bull guy."

Even more fascinating is that not long after adding fuel to the Verstappen-to-Mercedes narrative, Wolff is now playing down the likelihood of it actually happening.

"I think the driver will always choose the quickest car," he said. "That is fundamentally what it's all about. At the moment, the Red Bull is the quickest car so that will always be the priority in my opinion."

Finally, Dutch media now report that, prior to the leak of Horner's communications with the woman, Red Bull actually drafted a press release about his departure from the team - perhaps for health reasons.

The Thai shareholder then stepped in, vetoing the release of the statement - and triggering the next episode in the saga.

The most authoritative British specialist media source in F1 believes Jos Verstappen's actions might ultimately be about triggering an exit clause in his son's contract - opening up the possibility for more influence and flexibility.

"In the meantime, the credibility of Formula 1 suffers as a result," Blick's Benoit concluded.

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6 F1 Fan comments on “Schumacher Suggests Horner's Red Bull Reign Nearing End?

  1. OTSA

    Makes sense, go to the 3rd best team because your dad spits the dummy and Alonso goes to Red Bull and wins more WDC's. What an ar** Jos Verstappen is.

  2. Sylvain

    A new chapter in F1 history has begun. We have had and still have big names, tremendous mechanical development, some minor sportive scandals, now F1 is entrying a period of Oh là là! stories. A new phase and a new style . . .

  3. Les

    What is Jos Verstappen's agenda here.
    Max is in the best car wirh unprecedented results. Why does Jos want Horner out when Red Bull is doing so well. I hope Max is is own man here and realises Red Bull is the car to be in.
    Maybe he would be better talking to and listening to his Mum instead of following Jos.
    Wolff would be happy to get Max out of the Red Bull car so he's happy to keep stirring the pot in the guise of it is damaging F1.

  4. Blo

    As I predicted, this will not end well. Remember it was CH who started this team as we know it, I would be surprised if he can be removed.
    JV should be nowhere near F1. He is a very dangerous character and it could come to the point where he makes his son unemployable. No one is indispensable.

  5. shroppyfly

    "I am probably not doing any good to the whole issue, because then it could be seen as this just being about a power fight within Formula 1," Wolff added. "That's why it should not be in the team's (Red Bull's) hands.

    If it was a big plc/corporate, this sort of matter would be dealt with 1st with HR, and if no resolution, 2 Maybe with mediation, then 3rd with an industrial tribunal , i do seem to remember reading that the grieved party had also began legal proceedings in the UK, maybe thats the tribunal aspect of this story, but A hell of a lot of rumours by everyone involved for there own reasons, as is normally the case when the crap hits the fan

  6. shroppyfly

    Oh and my reason for the comment was , Of course it should be with Rb, Torger with the biggest spoon in F1 (maybe), but the Fia have said nothing to do with us, this the problem , a lot of the stories are just rehashed old news, because journos need to be posting


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