Max Verstappen’s secret contract clause and warning over Mercedes move – F1 news round-up

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko.

Max Verstappen has spoken of how integral Helmut Marko is to Red Bull.

Tuesday’s F1 news saw a significant update come from the Red Bull camp as we gear up for the Australian Grand Prix.

We have that and plenty more to bring you as part of our daily round-up of the best headlines from the day, and if you missed anything from Tuesday, panic not – we have you covered.

F1 news round-up – 19 March 2024

The latest from the Red Bull camp, including Max Verstappen’s secret contract clause

Ahead of the weekend, understands several things about the current state of Red Bull as the Australian Grand Prix approaches.

First, that Christian Horner’s position is safe with the team as the Thai majority shareholders have thrown their backing behind him at Red Bull GmbH, and we also understand there is truth behind Max Verstappen’s contract clause that he can leave the team if Helmut Marko leaves.

There is more to that however, as also understands that a contract clause, inserted into Verstappen’s contract that allows him to leave if Marko’s tenure ends, does exist, and was supposedly inserted without the knowledge of Horner or other senior members of the parent company – achievable through Marko’s position as a director of Red Bull Racing.

However, with the situation calming as F1 turns its attention to this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, understands talks between leading figures at Red Bull Racing have resulted in a cooling of tensions.

Read more: Red Bull latest: Peace talks, Christian Horner support and Verstappen’s secret contract clause

Max Verstappen warned against leaving dominant Red Bull setup

Former F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella believes it would be “stupid” for Max Verstappen to leave his current position with Red Bull, given the huge strength he and the team are currently enjoying on track.

He told OCB Scores: “Anything is possible in Formula 1 and in life, you just never know.

“Nobody expected to see Lewis Hamilton moving from Mercedes and especially closing the deal with Ferrari. Nobody expected that.

“But we don’t know if Max will join Mercedes, next year or in the future. In the place where he is now with the best team and the best car, it’s stupid move to another team.

“The salary is good at Red Bull and it could be the same or even more in Mercedes, so who knows?

“But you’ve got a winning car, you are at the top of the world at the moment – why move to another team?”

Read more: ‘It’s a stupid move’ – Max Verstappen given clear warning over potential action due to Red Bull saga

Exclusive: The continuing story of Mika Hakkinen’s 1999 season

In part three of our extended interview series with Mika Hakkinen discussing his second title-winning season 25 years on, we start to get towards the business end of the campaign with the Flying Finn.

Some fascinating insights come from the year as the races racked up, and the conversation was all-encompassing as Eddie Irvine became Hakkinen’s main contender after Michael Schumacher’s broken leg.

Read below for some brilliant tales from an engrossing interview with the former McLaren driver.

Read more: Coulthard collisions and Monza tears: The inside story of Mika Hakkinen’s dramatic 1999 title victory

Guenther Steiner to lead an all-new F1 team?

Having said he’s taking time out of Formula 1, though he would be open to a return with the right project, Guenther Steiner had said recently he has no interest in fighting at the rear of the field so would only return with the right opportunity.

Now, he has hinted that he might be willing to return to the grid with an all-new team, if such an occurrence were to take place.

“I don’t know if I want to be back as a team principal,” he told ABC.

“Maybe setting up a new team, for the new era of Formula 1 … that could be an opportunity.”

Read more: Guenther Steiner hints at huge new F1 project despite prior firm objections

What left Esteban Ocon ‘pissed off’ with Max Verstappen’s F1 promotion in 2014

Esteban Ocon beat Max Verstappen to the European Formula 3 title in 2014, but while the Dutchman was picked up for an F1 seat the following season, Ocon faced the possible end of his motorsport journey for a time – without the funding to continue before getting on the phone to Toto Wolff.

Circumstances can be a cruel thing sometimes, but especially for a teenage Ocon at the time, who revealed he was close to leaving driving altogether to become a mechanic with his dad.

“From Max not winning the title, finishing third and then going into F1 and me not having even an option to continue racing, that was tough to swallow, for sure, and I was very pissed off in those times,” Ocon admitted to the High Performance Podcast.

“That was very, very difficult because, to me, it was not fair. Not saying that I would go to F1, because I always believed that my time would come that if I put hard work enough, got the results, my time will always come.

“But in those moments, I wasn’t sure that I was going to even continue racing and, for me, that wasn’t fair.”

Read more: Esteban Ocon left feeling ‘p***ed off’ with Max Verstappen and his F1 promotion