Max Verstappen: Helmut Marko ‘has to stay’ at Red Bull, and says his future at F1 team depends on advisor staying

“Helmut is a very key factor in that and he has to stay for me, for sure,” says Max Verstappen to Sky Sports F1 at the Saudi Arabian GP, where questions surrounding the future of motorsport advisor Helmut Marko at Red Bull have emerged

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Max Verstappen says his future with Red Bull is dependent on them keeping advisor Helmut Marko at the team

Max Verstappen has told Sky Sports his Red Bull future depends on Helmut Marko staying at the team.

Amid the ongoing scrutiny on Red Bull following the conclusion of the investigation into Christian Horner, which resulted in allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against the team principal by a female colleague being dismissed, questions surrounding Marko’s future at the team have emerged at the Saudi Arabian GP.

Marko, who is employed as a motorsport advisor by Austrian parent company Red Bull GmbH rather than the F1 team directly, was a close confidant of Dietrich Mateschitz, the company’s co-founder who died in October 2022, and has been a senior figure during the company’s two decades in the sport, overseeing its young driver programme of which Verstappen is a star graduate.

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Media at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix claim the 80-year-old is under investigation in connection with information leaks relating to the probe into Horner’s alleged inappropriate behaviour with a female colleague. The allegations against Horner were dismissed and subsequently his accuser has been suspended on full pay.

Asked by Austrian TV channel ORF about the possibility of a suspension being imposed from Monday, Marko said: “I’ll put it this way, it’s difficult to judge, or let’s put it this way, ultimately, I’ll decide for myself what I do.

“The theoretical possibility always exists. I think it’s such a complex issue. Again, we want peace in the team. This world championship will be difficult enough with 24 races and we have to concentrate on that.”

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Craig Slater provides an update on the off-track drama at Red Bull, and questions if Max Verstappen has given his team an ultimatum by suggesting Helmut Marko’s potential departure would affect his decision whether to stay or not

Marko told Sky Germany he would have a meeting with Red Bull GmbH chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff on Saturday to discuss his future, but admitted he might decide of his own accord not to carry on in his role.

“There is so much speculation and the like going around,” said Marko. “I have another meeting tomorrow [Saturday] and then we’ll see. But as I said, everything has to be right for me to want to continue working there.”

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after qualifying on pole position for Saturday’s Saudi Arabian GP, Verstappen, when asked what impact any exit for Marko would have on him, replied: “Helmut and I, we have a lot of respect for each other.

“My loyalty in general to Red Bull, but also to him, after all for what he has done for me goes very far.

“I’ve always said, especially after Dietrich’s passing, with everyone in the team, that I find it really important that we keep the key team together because that’s how we have performed really well and that’s how we will perform really well in the future. They know that.

“For me, Helmut is a very key factor in that and he has to stay for me, for sure.”

Asked directly if Marko needed to stay for him to also stay, Verstappen said: “I’ve always said that to the team, they know that.”

Verstappen: Marko exit would be ‘crazy’

Verstappen’s Red Bull contract runs to the end of the 2028 season but speculation about his future has swirled after his father, Jos, said at last weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix that the team was “in danger of being torn apart” if Horner remained in his role.

Asked on Wednesday by Sky Sports F1 if there was any circumstance in which he could see himself not driving a Red Bull in 2025, Verstappen said: “Things must go really crazy, I guess.

“But that’s not the target for everyone.”

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Max Verstappen responds after being questioned on his future and whether he sees himself staying at Red Bull

When asked on Friday if any departure for Marko would represent something “crazy”, Verstappen replied: “That’s quite an understatement if that happens. That’s crazy. Let’s see what happens.

“We’ll see if something happens next week.”

On Marko’s role and impact at the team since its foundation in 2005, Verstappen said: “He has built this team from the ground up with Dietrich’s blessing and I think he’s always kept a good relationship with a lot of people in the team and backed the important people and in crucial moments as well.

“He’s definitely a key member now for the future.”

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Following comments from Max Verstappen’s father Jos Verstappen, Red Bull boss Christian Horner says the trio have agreed to move on for the season ahead

In his appearance at the FIA press conference in Jeddah on Thursday, Horner said he was “certain” Verstappen would remain with the team until the end of his contract, after agreeing “to move on” following the public dispute with the world champion’s father, Jos.

“I spoke to Jos following the grand prix, and obviously congratulated him on his son’s performance,” said Horner.

“And I think it’s in everybody’s interest, collectively, that we’ve agreed to move on, to focus on the future.

“We both have a vested interest in his son, to get the best and provide the best cars for him and to get the best out of him, and he’s started the season in the best possible way.

“He’s an outstanding talent and hopefully we can continue to provide him with a very competitive car.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Saudi Arabian GP schedule

Saturday March 9

  • 12pm: F1 Academy Race 2
  • 1.20pm: F2 Feature Race
  • 3.30pm: Saudi Arabian GP build-up: Grand Prix Saturday
  • 7pm: Saudi Arabian GP reaction: Chequered flag
  • 9.30pm: Saudi Arabian GP highlights

Watch the second round of the new F1 season – the Saudi Arabian GP – live on Sky Sports F1. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership for just £21 a month for 12 months

Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight showdown with Francis Ngannou takes place on Friday March 8, live on Sky Sports Box Office with the main event expected around 11pm. Book Joshua v Ngannou now!

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