NOVEMBER 26, 2023

Verstappen won't let Marko be pushed out of F1

Max Verstappen says he will always act with "loyalty" towards his Formula 1 mentor, Dr Helmut Marko.

Max Verstappen, Helmut Marko, Abu Dhabi GP 2023
© Red Bull

Recently, there have been rumours of a power struggle between Red Bull's top chiefs, Red Bull team consultant Marko and team boss Christian Horner.

There were suggestions 80-year-old Marko may be pushed out of the team's F1 program as a result, but Verstappen told De Telegraaf newspaper in Abu Dhabi: "You should actually describe it as it is.

Red Bull should not want to continue without Helmut, said the dominant triple world champion. "For me, that has to do with respect and loyalty.

"That's number one for me. That's how I feel when I look at the contract between me and the team. I also feel that mutual respect from Helmut.

I will not let him fall.

Verstappen's backing for Marko comes at the end of a sensational and unprecedentedly-successful season for the energy drink-owned outfit.

The problem is that it can hardly get any better, Verstappen, 26, said. "I don't think there have been many seasons in the history of the sport that have gone this way.

"There have been years when I was lucky if I won one or two races, and they were special moments. Now, during a year like this, it is more a matter of ticking the boxes.

That may sound very strange, but that's how it is when you fight for the title.

Across the Abu Dhabi weekend, a predominant theme has been wild rumours connecting Lewis Hamilton with a shock move to Red Bull, with some believing that Verstappen needs and deserves a more competitive teammate than Sergio Perez.

There may well come a time when someone comes next to me and makes things a little more difficult for me, Verstappen insists. "But I'm not concerned with that now.

It is sometimes said that as a driver you need the pressure of a teammate. But I don't need that.

Verstappen's current contract runs until 2018, and he admits that at the moment he cannot imagine switching to another team like Ferrari.

That is my thought at the moment, he said.

"I have a contract until 2028. Maybe I'll stop in Formula 1 after that and I won't drive for another team anyway. It would also be a nice story if I could spend my entire career for one team.

"Would I then be able to return, like Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, if I initially stopped? Normally I am a person who sticks with something once I'm done with it. I might miss things but after I've done it for a long time, I think I'll be ok.

And if you stop Formula 1, there are plenty of other racing categories in which I can compete. That's also in my thoughts.