Money laundering: trouble in Formula 1
Formula 1 is facing a major scandal, with Max Verstappen, of all people, at the center of it. But the Red Bull driver is not to blame for the bubbling headlines, because the rumors are about a sponsor of the 24-year-old, who is one of the big favorites to win this year’s world championship title. However, it’s not a small matter: Among other things, the racer’s backer is accused of money laundering on a grand scale.
Allegations against Fritz Van Eerd
According to a report by Sport.de, which refers to information from the Dutch news portal “Eindhoven News,” Dutch entrepreneur Fritz Van Eerd is said to be at the center of the investigation. Van Eerd is known in Formula 1 as the CEO and owner of the Jumbo supermarket chain, which supports Max Verstappen, among others, with a lavish sponsorship deal. It is unclear how things will proceed now. Just how important sponsorship deals are in the racing world was recently demonstrated by rival Haas, which signed a contract worth millions with Hantec Markets.
The Eindhoven News also reported that the entrepreneur’s house had been searched by the police. But it gets even trickier: the money laundering is said to have been handled by Fritz Van Eerd in motorsport. Indications of this were provided by unclear financial transactions, which could now also affect Red Bull and Max Verstappen. However, there was no statement on the case from either the racing team or the driver. They were emphatically calm. However, Raymond Vermeulen, the manager of the 2021 world champion, told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper that caution was called for. Together with the racing driver’s father, Jos Verstappen, Raymond Vermeulen is responsible for management in the Verstappen household.
Verstappen on the way to the world championship title
Nevertheless, the management is now trying to keep Max Verstappen out of the headlines. After all, the reigning world champion needs all his concentration to win the upcoming races as well. In the overall standings, Verstappen is in first place with Red Bull Racing. With 335 points, the Dutchman has already gained a big advantage over Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari, who has 219 points. Max Verstappen still has six races to go to become world champion for the second time. Next up is the Singapore Grand Prix on the first weekend of October.
Does the scandal affect other athletes?
Against this background, Raymond Vermeulen naturally distanced himself from Fritz Van Eerd. He explained that the investigations do not concern the supermarket, the actual sponsor of his client. Accordingly, the allegations would also not be able to affect the contract of the two parties. The supermarket chain Jumbo developed into his billion-dollar company. Of course, the Van Eerd family has played a major role in this. In addition to sponsoring Formula 1, they are also active as investors in the Jumbo-Visma cycling team, various soccer clubs and billiards tournaments. It is therefore unclear whether this scandal could affect other athletes in the future.
Is Verstappen causing a tremor in Formula 1?
However, there is no peace around Max Verstappen, because as the newspaper Der Westen recently reported, the racing driver is possibly flirting with a move to Ferrari. This would be a real hammer, because the reigning world champion is actually under contract with Red Bull until 2028. However, it is unclear how much truth there is behind these rumors. The Italian portal “Moto” published details of insider information, according to which Jos Verstappen is said to have made contact with the Scuderia.
Switch in 2024?
However, the Verstappen camp reacted cautiously to questions from the media. The management explained that it would never be about a change before 2023 against. They merely wanted to explore the future, they said. However, it seems likely that there will be a change in the 2024 season, because that is when the contracts of the two drivers under contract with Ferrari expire. Accordingly, it is not at all unlikely that Max Verstappen could switch to the Scuderia.