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Christian Horner

Horner dismisses Marko driver market claims

Christian Horner has dismissed Dr Helmut Marko's claims about Carlos Sainz as "pure speculation" and "improper" after the Red Bull advisor suggested the driver had received an unmatchable offer from Audi.

Horner Marko
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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has shutdown suggestions made by Dr Helmut Marko about the driver market, dismissing them as conjecture, adding it would be "improper" to divulge such information.

Horner's blunt response comes after Marko claimed Carlos Sainz has a "very lucrative offer from Audi", adding Red Bull "cannot match or exceed" it.

The 29-year-old has been closely linked with a return to the Red Bull family after being dropped by Ferrari for the 2025 F1 season - Lewis Hamilton is joining the Scuderia in his place after over a decade at Mercedes.

Through the rumours the Spanish driver may replace Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull seat, the belief persists that Audi is his most likely long-term destination. It has also been suggested he will join Stake F1 next year, ahead of Sauber's transition to Audi for 2026 - something Marko has tapped into.

"That is pure speculation," Horner told media including RacingNews365 ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, adding: "We have no idea if and what Audi have offered Carlos [Sainz]."

Horner described the three-time grand prix winner as a "key" in the F1 driver market, highlighting how it is "natural" for someone of his calibre to receive such attention.

"It’s only natural that there’s going to be significant interest and I’m sure Audi would be foolish not to consider a driver of his quality amongst others that have seats available," he said, before continuing his stern rebuttal of his colleague's claims.

"But it would be improper to disclose what offers are made - and it’s something that has not been disclosed to us, as to what offers have been made from other teams.”

The comments by Marko come after a period of in-fighting and allegations at Red Bull, which has mired its early season and destabilised the team, despite impressive form on track. However, Horner's view was supported by Stake F1 team principal Alessandro Alunni Bravi, with his team at the centre of the hearsay.

“I don’t comment about speculation," said the 49-year-old.

“As mentioned by Christian – I fully agree with what he said – it’s not appropriate to disclose what could be the discussions in place. No one really knows what other teams are offering to the drivers… we don’t want to be part of a game that is done by others.”

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