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Formula 1

Four reasons for a rare top-level Red Bull F1 intervention

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
7 min read

Red Bull CEO Oliver Mintzlaff has offered a rare top-level retaliation to the scrutiny of the company’s Formula 1 team, as part of the bid to end the disquiet that has dogged it this season.

Mintzlaff - in attendance at the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday - has oversight of the two F1 teams as CEO of corporate projects and new investments of the Red Bull parent company in Austria.

He has given a rare interview to Bild in which he discussed, at length, several key topics relating to Red Bull Racing and the many narratives that have emerged this season – including Mercedes’ public pursuit of Max Verstappen, Christian Horner’s leadership, and now the exit of design legend Adrian Newey.

Oliver Mintzlaff, Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko, F1

It is extremely unusual for anyone above Horner, or motorsport advisor Helmut Marko, to talk about Red Bull F1 matters. Higher-ups in the wider Red Bull organisation almost never intervene publicly like this.

Mintzlaff’s interview was not orchestrated by the F1 team, instead taken on willingly himself – and his conscious decision not to hold back when discussing F1 matters is significant.


Toto Wolff, Mercedes, F1

One of Mintzlaff’s motivations was to respond to what Red Bull clearly feels is excessive and inappropriate attention from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, regarding Verstappen.

Wolff has latched onto the uncertainty around Red Bull, sparked by the controversy involving Horner and a complaint by a female member of staff earlier this year.

Mercedes F1 team co-owner Wolff has repeatedly commented on his interest in signing the world champion if possible, should Verstappen decide to leave Red Bull before the end of his contract in 2028.

The public courting of a rival driver, under contract, is unusual and fuelled by Wolff’s belief that a destabilised environment at Red Bull combined with the upcoming 2026 car and engine rules reset could prompt Verstappen to pursue a better long-term option.

Wolff had already drawn increasingly irate responses from Horner, but now Mintzlaff has waded in, too – indicating clear dissatisfaction at the very top of Red Bull.

“I understand the pressure that Toto Wolff - and maybe other teams - are under after years of trailing,” Mintzlaff said.

“But I find that Toto Wolff should concentrate on his own challenges - he has enough of those.

“And it is also a matter of respect, talking again and again about personnel from other teams - that's not appropriate.”


Max Verstappen, Red Bull, F1

Wolff’s interest in Verstappen has not emerged from nowhere. It has coincided with Verstappen’s father Jos making various remarks against Horner’s leadership, and warning Red Bull risks falling apart.

It is widely understood in F1 that Jos Verstappen wants his son to seriously consider leaving Red Bull to move to Mercedes instead.

While Max has not emphatically ruled out such a move, at least in public, he has also not shared his father’s apparent enthusiasm for the idea.

Horner has been at pains to stress Verstappen is actually happy at Red Bull with no reason to leave, given he currently has the best car and Red Bull is confident it is well-prepared to meet the challenges of the 2026 rules with its first-ever in-house F1 engine.

Mintzlaff has decided to take a strong public stance himself, in support of Horner, to emphasise Red Bull's belief Verstappen is indeed happy, and “hasn't said a word about not wanting to fulfil” the contract.

“I have no concerns that he would fancy a move away,” said Mintzlaff.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, F1

“Things just need to quiet down again now. That's what Max wants - and that's also what we want.”

On whether there is any reason Verstappen should leave, Mintzlaff added: “No. At least none that come to my mind.”

Linked to Verstappen, by Max himself, is Helmut Marko. At this year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Verstappen made it clear that if Marko left Red Bull – which seemed possible because of ruptures within the team’s leadership – then Verstappen would consider his own future.

It is believed that Verstappen can exit his contract early if Marko departs Red Bull.

But Mintzlaff and Marko held talks over the Jeddah weekend and the outcome was Marko committed to remaining at Red Bull, at least for now.

Mintzlaff has not commented on whether he thinks Marko will stay longer-term – but ruled out him leaving for Mercedes himself (to go there with Verstappen perhaps), and has at least publicly supported Marko, which can’t hurt in the bid to reassure Verstappen.

Helmut Marko and Oliver Mintzlaff, Red Bull, F1

“Max wants the fastest car,” added Mintzlaff. “We have that.

“Max wants to be world champion. He has the best chance to do that with us.

“Max is a loyal guy. He knows that Christian Horner and Helmut Marko have always trusted in him - and he appreciates that.

“And Red Bull is a great brand with which he can identify very well.

“So, there are many reasons in favour - and none against.”


Adrian Newey, Red Bull, F1

Beyond Verstappen there has been a wider disquiet around Red Bull, of which Adrian Newey’s exit is the latest part.

Newey's departure, in early 2025, was confirmed ahead of the Miami Grand Prix weekend and inevitably that sent speculation into overdrive – not just where he could go next, but the impact his exit will have on Red Bull.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said he thought more dominoes would fall after Newey, and shortly after a report emerged that one of the team’s senior trackside figures Jonathan Wheatley is considering his future.

Wheatley could depart, but as contract negotiations are ongoing, he could also stay. There is speculation he covets a team principal role which Red Bull, it is understood, would not stand in the way of him pursuing.

Jonathan Wheatley, Red Bull, F1

The big focus, though, is Red Bull’s technical team and whether the combination of Newey leaving and the incoming 2026 car and engine overhaul could knock it off its perch.

Red Bull’s position is clear: it is adamant the technical team is rock solid, that nobody wants to leave, with technical director Pierre Wache locked in for several years and head of aerodynamics Enrico Balbo also committed.

There is also a secondary element, which is that unofficially there is some relief that Newey is leaving because it simplifies things and puts the focus on the official technical organisation, not someone less actively engaged in the regular design and development work.

It is a brave position for Red Bull to take, but it is consistent – and Mintzlaff has now effectively reinforced it.

Oliver Mintzlaff and Adrian Newey, Red Bull, F1

He recognises Newey's exit is "of course a shame" but believes that "tomorrow we will still know how to build a quick Formula 1 car". Likewise, on 2026, he is “confident” in Red Bull’s own engine undertaking because “we didn't start preparing yesterday".

Mintzlaff admits that "there's no guarantee" that Red Bull will still be out front, "but we have proven that we can handle major regulation changes [and] other teams haven't closed the gap to us in three years".

"Max will also have observed that - and it makes me feel totally positive about the future,” he added.


Christian Horner, Red Bull, F1

Some kind of interference or retaliation from Mintzlaff has been a long time coming, given the various issues around the Red Bull team off track.

The fact it has now come to a head with him deciding to address various topics is telling, not least because it indicates the clear direction that the team is going in.

Whatever the true extent of the machinations behind the scenes, with suggestions of Mintzlaff/Horner animosity and even bigger Thailand/Austria ownership-level fights for control of Red Bull, the upshot of the last few months is Horner remains in control.

He stayed in charge through the investigation into the allegations against him, and afterwards once that grievance has been dropped. Leaked alleged messages did not overthrow him, nor did a Jos Verstappen row or speculation about Verstappen and Marko.

Now Mintzlaff says of the prospect of long-term success with Horner in charge: “Of that I am convinced. He has only the team's success in mind and is a very good CEO.”

Christian Horner, Red Bull, F1

Horner would not be getting this level of vocal support were Red Bull’s direction not set. He is going nowhere in the short or medium term in Red Bull’s eyes, unless something unexpected happens or the narrative dramatically changes once again.

That had already been implied earlier this year - but Mintzlaff has moved it beyond inference and reading between the lines.

The message from Red Bull is clear: Horner’s in charge, the team’s foundations are solid, and wild narratives will not change that.

While that’s an unsurprising line for a senior executive to take, it’s also one we would never normally hear where Red Bull’s concerned. That speaks to what a unique situation F1’s dominant team has found itself in – and how adamant it is about retaining that position in the face of so much apparent instability.

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