NOVEMBER 29, 2023
Red Bull discussion looming over Marko's F1 future
Dr Helmut Marko does not sound 100 percent certain he will remain in his top Red Bull job into 2024.
Recently, there were rumblings of a major power struggle behind the scenes of the energy drink company's Formula 1 program, with 80-year-old team consultant Marko reportedly at loggerheads with Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner.
Mere days ago, world champion Max Verstappen renewed his public backing for his long-time Austrian mentor, insisting: "Red Bull should not want to continue without Helmut.
For me, that has to do with respect and loyalty. That's number one for me. I will not let him fall, the Dutch driver added.
But in a recent interview with Osterreich newspaper, Marko hinted that he isn't sure that he will be present throughout the long 24-race calendar next year.
What did I say? he has now told the same publication in a follow-up about his 2024 plans.
Reporter Knut Okresek reminded Marko that he indicated he may not be at every race in 2024.
After the season there will be a general discussion about what I do. It's common for people to discuss what's going to happen in the future after a season. That's how it's always been.
Marko is understood to have a contract with Red Bull through 2024, although it is believed he does not get along as well with the late founder Dietrich Mateschitz's son Mark or the new Red Bull CEO Oliver Mintzlaff.
However, Marko insists he still has the energy to keep working in F1.
I have the strength to do that, he confirmed.
In Las Vegas, I was in surprisingly good shape and better than most.
But whether Marko's role is the same in 2024 or not, he believes the team can continue to set the pace next season - enabling Verstappen to even target Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton's all-time seven-title records.
I trust Max for that, he said.
It is highly likely that he will still win world championships. I just don't think it's possible that we repeat a season like this one with 21 wins in 22 races.
As for the potential of winning all 24 races next year, Marko is even more sceptical.
It's illusory that we could do that, he said. "But first let's see whether all 24 races can actually be run. Remember, Imola was cancelled this year due to the natural disaster.
And when I look at how things are going in the world, you have to be very optimistic to think that everything can go ahead as planned.
Finally, Marko said that with the 2023 season now finally over, he expects rumours linking Sergio Perez with a premature exit will die down.
We have a great car and a highly motivated team, he said. "But the crucial point for this dominance, and more and more people are slowly getting it, is the Max Verstappen factor.
Sergio Perez has been talked badly about, even though he is a top driver. He's just unlucky that he has a talent of the century as a teammate.