Schumacher: Verstappen has clear favourite in Marko-Horner power struggle

Tensions have been high at between Helmut Marko and Christian Horner at Red Bull

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Ralf Schumacher believes Max Verstappen would rather see Christian Horner leave Red Bull than Helmut Marko, amid reports of a power struggle between the two most senior people at the two-time reigning constructors’ champions.

Tensions have been raised at Red Bull ever since the controversy caused by Marko‘s xenophobic comments regarding Sergio Perez, where he said the Mexican’s culture and heritage make him less focussed in Formula 1.

And Horner is apparently trying to use the scandal to force Marko out, with the death of Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz in 2022 having left a power vacuum within the team.

“The story is that Verstappen will not tolerate Marko‘s departure and would even prefer Horner to leave the team,” Schumacher said in an interview with Sky Germany.

Helmut chose Horner to lead Red Bull long before he entered Formula 1 and one has always been on the other’s side.”

Marko has been described as a ‘second father’ to Verstappen, and is the man responsible for bringing the two-time champion to Red Bull.

After Verstappen completed a stunning three race wins from three (plus two poles) at the Norisring round of 2014 European F3, Marko phoned the then-16-year-old’s father Jos asking to put him in F1 the following season.

Schumacher: AlphaTauri future disagreements

Helmut Marko speaks to Sergio Perez | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Marko‘s comments on Perez are far from the only bone of contention between the pair though. The Austrian wanted Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri and to axe Perez, with Horner holding the opposite opinion on both drivers.

Marko is also in favour of keeping a strong relationship with Honda ahead of their engine split for 2026, including backing Tsunoda at AlphaTauri, but Horner delayed the confirmation of his extension for 2024.

Meanwhile, Horner was less keen on the sale of AlphaTauri, instead preferring to bring operations closer to Red Bull.

“The sale of AlphaTauri was avoided in Salzburg because that was one of the last wishes of the late Dietrich Mateschitz,” Schumacher added. “When Horner said that if he has to support Red Bull more, he should have more influence, I got the feeling that he wanted to buy AlphaTauri.

“His plan was to make it as successful as possible in order to sell it in the future for a good price.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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