Max Verstappen issues warning to Red Bull: Marko has to stay

Max Verstappen was quizzed about Helmut Marko's Red Bull future after his dominant pole at the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP

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Max Verstappen gave a rousing show of support to Red Bull special advisor Helmut Marko after storming to pole position at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as the Austrian admitted he could be facing a suspension from the team after Jeddah.

Marko may face punishment from an investigation into leaks within Red Bull – particularly focussing on the bombshell leaks that have emerged from the inquest that cleared Christian Horner of ‘inappropriate and controlling behaviour’.

However, Verstappen couldn’t have done much more to back the man that first scouted him and signed him to Red Bull, insisting Marko‘s presence was integral to his own future with the team.

“For my side, I have a lot of respect for Helmut and what we have achieved together,” Verstappen told the media in Jeddah. “It goes very far and of course, my loyalty to him is very big.

“I’ve always expressed this to everyone within the team, everyone high up, that he is an important part in my decision-making for all the time in the future as well within the team. So yeah, it’s very important that he stays within the team, including everyone else of course, because it’s a whole team effort.

“It’s very important that we keep the key people together because I feel like if such an important pillar falls away that’s not good for my situation – that’s also what I’ve said to the team.”

Verstappen backs Marko

Helmut Marko, Christian Horner and Max Verstappen celebrating at the 2022 Abu Dhabi GP | Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Verstappen‘s staunch backing of Marko is all the more telling because of how strongly it contrasts with the Dutchman’s lukewarm reaction whenever he’s been questioned about Horner‘s Red Bull future.

After taking pole position at the 2024 Bahrain GP, Verstappen was asked directly whether he still had full faith in Horner as his team principal and avoided committing to an answer, instead repeating that he was focussed on the grand prix – which he won in commanding fashion.

Verstappen is contracted to Red Bull until 2028 but reportedly has a clause that would allow him to follow Marko out of the exit door if the Austrian does leave before that, and its thought that the drivers’ representatives met with Mercedes in Bahrain.

“So yeah, for me Helmet has to stay for sure,” Verstappen added after his Saudi pole. “He has built this team together with Dietrich [Mateschitz, Red Bull co-founder] from day one and he’s always been very loyal to the team, to everyone within the team, to make sure that everyone would keep their positions from back in the day.

“And I think it’s also very important that you give the man a lot of respect for what he has done. And that comes back also to loyalty, you know, and integrity. So yeah, for sure it’s important that he stays as part of the team also for me.”

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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