Helmut Marko’s Silverstone 2021 dig after Mercedes’ ‘ball is in our court’ comment

Michelle Foster
Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the 2021 British Grand Prix. Silverstone, June 2021.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the 2021 British Grand Prix.

Helmut Marko has told Toto Wolff he can make a play for Max Verstappen but he will be “unsuccessful” as the Red Bull champion remembers Silverstone 2021.

Mercedes are unexpectedly in the hunt for a new driver for the 2025 season after Lewis Hamilton sensationally announced he’s heading to Ferrari despite having signed a two-year extension last year.

Having activated a release clause in his Mercedes contract, the seven-time World Champion will be joining Ferrari on a multi-year contract.

Helmut Marko reckons Mercedes ‘will try’ for Max Verstappen, but they’ll fail

It was a shock announcement that now has Mercedes team boss Wolff scrambling for a new driver.

Asked if triple World Champion Verstappen could be on his shortlist, the Austrian implied that nothing was out of the question.

“We will always try to have the best possible combination in our car and seek out these discussions,” he said. “You can see how quickly the situation can change. At the same time, we respect contracts that exist.

“Drivers always want to be in the fastest car. It’s up to us to demonstrate that we can build the fastest car – not just in the short and medium term, but also in the long term. This will then lead to opportunities.

“The ball is in our court.”

But not when it comes to Verstappen, insists Marko.

“Toto Wolff will try that – but he will be unsuccessful,” he told sport.de.

After all, Verstappen has a “good memory” and has not forgotten the 2021 British Grand Prix.

That Sunday Verstappen was taken to hospital for precautionary tests after Hamilton collided with him through Copse, the Dutchman sliding through the gravel before hitting the barrier at a force of 51G.

He was angered by Mercedes’ “disrespectful” celebrations when Hamilton won, saying that shows “how they really are”.

Wolff hit back at Red Bull’s criticism of Hamilton’s actions, saying: “As far as the comments that were made, sometimes defamatory, sometimes very personal, I think everyone needs to do it their way.”

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The Red Bull motorsport advisor also weighed in on Hamilton’s decision to leave Mercedes for Ferrari, putting that down to the Briton having “lost faith in Mercedes”.

Hamilton has not won a Grand Prix since his 2021 title fight with Verstappen with his winless streak up to 45 races.

“This is the best thing that could have happened to Formula 1 at the moment,” said Marko, who believes there is a general “fascination with Ferrari” for the F1 drivers.

That it is Wolff’s long-time friend Fred Vasseur who has nabbed his seven-time World Champion will put a “strain” on their relationship believes Marko.

Adding that Wolff has “actually always supported” Vasseur, he concluded: “And now this!”

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