Max Verstappen threatens a possible exit in defence of Helmut Marko

Max Verstappen threatens a possible exit in defence of Helmut Marko

For the first time, Max Verstappen has opened up about Helmut Marko’s fate in relation to his future with Red Bull.

Max Verstappen responded firmly to defend his mentor and Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko after the triple world champion was confronted with rumours on Friday that the Austrian would be suspended following the Christian Horner controversy.

As Max Verstappen surged to pole, it was another tale of Red Bull Racing excellence on the track, however, there was turmoil behind the scenes as senior advisor Helmut Marko’s future was thrust into the ongoing controversy.

While qualifying was underway in Saudi Arabia on Friday, it was reported that Red Bull was investigating Marko for possible media leaks linked to the ongoing probe into allegations that Horner was behaving inappropriately as the team principal was later cleared of any misconduct.

Marko provided more information on where ‘he and Red Bull go from here’ after surprisingly telling ORF that there is a ‘possibility exists’ that he could receive a suspension from the company ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

On Saturday, the parties are scheduled to have further talks as Marko needs to make a decision on his future at Red Bull.

In recent days, there have been rumours circulating about a “Marko clause” in Verstappen’s contract, which would allow him to leave if the Austrian leaves. Verstappen now affirms that he has told the team straight up what his stand is as his future depends on what happens to Marko.

Speaking shortly after securing pole position for Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the three-time world champion maintained that Marko must remain in his position.

“From my side, I have a lot of respect for Helmut, and what we have achieved together,” said Verstappen. “It goes back very far. My loyalty to him is very big and I have always expressed this to everyone within the team, to everyone high up, that he is an important part in my decision-making for the future within the team.

“It is very important that he stays within the team, including of course everybody else, because it is a team effort and it is very important that we keep the key people together.

“I feel like if such an important pillar falls away, what I have said to the team, that is not good for my situation as well. For me, Helmut has to stay.”

Verstappen’s remarks go beyond ordinary support for Marko. It’s a direct message to Red Bull management: if they fire their longtime motorsport advisor, they risk the danger of losing their top driver.

“He built this team together with Dietrich (Mateschitz) from day one and he’s always been very loyal to the team and to everyone within the team to make sure that everyone would keep their positions from back in the day,” added Verstappen.

“I think it’s also important that you give the man a lot of respect for what he has done and that comes back to loyalty and integrity. So it is important that he stays part of the team.”

Red Bull is under more pressure than ever to resolve this internal conflict swiftly and decisively in light of the unexpected turn of events.

Maintaining their best driver and championship aspirations depends more now than ever on a speedy and transparent resolution to the Marko investigation.

After what happened on Friday, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff—who is looking to replace Lewis Hamilton, who will be joining Ferrari in 2025—will undoubtedly be keeping a closer eye on the issue and contemplating on what to do if the situation at Red Bull gets worse.

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