Helmut Marko delivers bad news for Toto Wolff after double job offer

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen, Helmut Marko and a Mercedes badge

Helmut Marko weighs in on Max Verstappen to Mercedes rumours

Helmut Marko has quipped he and Max Verstappen “are not going to Mercedes together” despite Toto Wolff’s cheeky job offer to the two key Red Bull team members.

Kickstarting his title defence with back-to-back wins in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Verstappen’s on-track performances have been overshadowed by Red Bull’s off-track troubles.

Helmut Marko ‘really thankful’ for Max Verstappen’s support

Last month Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was investigated by the F1 team’s parent company over allegations about his alleged behaviour, with that dismissed on the eve of the new season.

However, while Horner was still dealing with the fallout from that, rival team bosses calling for greater transparency, Red Bull GmbH launched another investigation, this time involving Marko and the information that was leaked about the Horner investigation.

That included a widely released email sent to journalists, rival team bosses, and F1 bosses, that claimed to contain information about the investigation.

Marko revealed he was facing a suspension but after a sitdown with Red Bull’s higher-ups, including head of sport Oliver Mintzlaff, he told Sky Germany ahead of the Saudi Arabian GP that he “will stay” on as Red Bull’s motorsport advisor.

That was good news for all involved as 24 hours earlier triple World Champion Verstappen had thrown his support behind Marko and made it clear that if the Austrian was ousted, he too would walk.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff was quick to pounce, telling Verstappen he’d “love” to him join Mercedes while jokingly offering Marko the “mascot” role left vacant by the passing of non-executive director Niki Lauda.

Alas for Wolff, the threat of Marko and Verstappen’s departures has, at least now, been neutralised.

Speaking to De Telegraaf, he was asked if Verstappen would see out his contract which runs through to the end of the 2028 season.

Marko replied: “That is a long time… I was really thankful for how loyal Max was. I was impressed. We are not going to Mercedes together at the moment.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

RB’s rough start will have Daniel Ricciardo asking existential questions

‘I lead this team’ – Christian Horner makes his, Verstappen and Marko Red Bull roles clear

As for the threat of suspension, the 81-year-old said: “We decided that these rumours [of the leaks] were spread and had no legal background. I will not be suspended.

“Our goal is to win the world championship. For that we will have to work hard.”

Verstappen, meanwhile, has called for unity and peace, the driver eager to see Red Bull draw a line under the drama and focus on the on-track action.

“I always said that what is most important is that we work together as a team and that everyone keeps the peace and that’s what we, I think, all agree on within the team,” he said.

“So hopefully from now onwards, that is also fully the case and everyone is trying to focus in the same direction.

“And I think the positive out of all this is that it didn’t hurt our performances so it’s a very strong team. I think also mentally, you can see from not only the driver’s side, but also mechanics, engineers, everyone is there to do their job.

“And I think everyone even when there is stuff going on or whatever, like they’re just very focused on their job as they should be.”

Verstappen leads the Drivers’ Championship on 51 points, 15 ahead of Sergio Perez, with Red Bull 38 up on Ferrari.

Read next: How ‘market force’ Lewis Hamilton could ‘destabilise Red Bull’ with Ferrari move