No Jos, but Verstappen has questions to answer in Saudi

4 months ago 79

Max Verstappen will face questions about his future with Red Bull when the triple Formula One champion returns this week to Saudi Arabia and one of the three tracks where he was beaten last season.

The Dutch driver's father Jos, who will not be at Saturday's race in Jeddah, caused a commotion in Bahrain last weekend when he said the team was in danger of being torn apart if Christian Horner remained in charge.

Verstappen has not commented on the incendiary remarks, although he did very publicly wish his father a happy 52nd birthday on social media on Monday.

Media reports said Horner was not invited to the birthday dinner in Dubai.

Verstappen, 26, also held back on expressing unqualified support for his beleaguered boss after Horner, 50, was cleared last week of alleged misconduct towards a female employee.

A meeting to clear the air took place in Dubai on Monday between team management and a representative of Verstappen senior, who is due to take part in a regional car rally in Belgium this weekend.

On track, Verstappen will aim to build on his dominant start to the season by taking victory at a floodlit Corniche track where he won in 2022 before team mate Sergio Perez triumphed last year.

"It's a completely different track layout, a lot more high-speed corners," he said after Bahrain where he won from pole with fastest lap and leading every lap.

"The Tarmac, of course, is completely different to what it is here, so less degradation. Probably that will help other teams as well compared to us."

Jeddah's smooth surface is the second longest on the calendar and also produces the second highest speeds after Italy's Monza.

The floodlit night race is being held a day earlier than usual to accommodate Ramadan, starting on Sunday evening.

Perez won last year from pole position while Verstappen went from 15th to second after suffering a drive-shaft failure in qualifying.

Jeddah, Azerbaijan - where Perez also won - and Singapore (Ferrari's Carlos Sainz), were the only races on the 22-round calendar where Verstappen did not win last year.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton will be returning to the scene of his most recent win, in December 2021 when Saudi Arabia made its debut.

The Briton was only seventh in Bahrain, with team mate George Russell fifth, when Mercedes made a cooling miscalculation. They are hoping high-speed Jeddah proves a different story.

"We've got an opportunity to take a ste...

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