Christian Horner gives honest view on Helmut Marko after Red Bull fallout

The reported rift inside Red Bull doesn't look like being healed any time soon

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has insisted there is “no issue” between himself and Helmut Marko after it was suggested he could be suspended from the Formula 1 team.

Marko was present at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix despite facing reports that he could be ousted from the team. Reports this week suggested an internal power struggle involving Marko and Horner could result in one of their senior team members departing.

The importance of maintaining healthy relations with Marko is clear after Max Verstappen stated he would leave the team if Marko was sacked. It comes after reports suggested he would be suspended by Red Bull GmBH, the parent company that owns the team, were dismissed following a meeting between Marko and CEO Oliver Mintzlaff.

But Horner, 50, played down suggestions he had fallen out with Marko as he opened up on his relationship with the Red Bull veteran: “My relationship with Helmut is no issue. I think that he’s always been outspoken. But that’s Helmut.”

Helmut Marko looks on | Dan Mullan / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Reacting to the reports about a possible suspension, Horner admitted he was surprised that Marko’s position was under threat – but claimed to have no influence in deciding his future.

“I think the rumours about suspension was as [much] news to the team as it was to anybody else, so we were quite surprised to hear that,” Horner said.

Helmut is a contractor to Red Bull GmbH, so it was an issue between between them and we weren’t part of that discussion.

“I’ve known Helmut since 1996 and he’s played an important role over the years, that role has evolved over the years. But I’ve known him a very, very long time. And coming up 81 years of age, he’s still obviously motivated about Formula 1, which is a positive thing.”

Marko’s role at Red Bull

Marko is an influential member of the Red Bull setup and was one of the key figures behind promoting Verstappen from Toro Rosso when he was 18. He maintains a strong grip on their young driver programme, which includes overseeing the Visa CashApp RB team and their drivers, Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo.

The 81-year-old was close with the company’s late founder Dietrich Mateschitz, who passed away in 2022. The Red Bull supremo’s passing triggered changes within the organisation, with Mintzlaff moving from the company’s operations in football to oversee the company.

Since then, rumours have circulated that Marko’s place has been under threat, while Horner’s own position in the team is no more certain after he was subjected to an internal investigation following allegations of inappropriate behaviour. He was later cleared after an ‘independent’ investigation was carried out, although Red Bull have refused to publish the report.

Days later, material purportedly linked to the investigation was leaked to F1 journalists and Austrian media reports even claimed Marko could have been behind it, although this is yet to be proven. But after clarifying the situation with Mintzlaff, he will be staying for the time being.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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