Helmut Marko sends ominous warning to Ferrari after Max Verstappen Australian GP discussion

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull driver programme boss Helmut Marko on the F1 grid in Bahrain.

Red Bull driver programme boss Helmut Marko.

Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko has told Ferrari that the outcome of the Australian Grand Prix would have been “completely different” had Max Verstappen not been forced to retire.

Verstappen maintained his 100 per cent record of claiming pole position in F1 2024 and after securing his lead at the start of the Australian GP, it seemed another trademark drive off into the sunset could be on the cards. As it turned out, that was not the case.

Max Verstappen ‘relatively easily’ matched Carlos Sainz pace

Rather than pull away, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz kept the pressure on the three-time World Champion in the early stages. Verstappen complained that his RB20 was feeling very loose and Sainz made the overtake for the lead, with Verstappen’s problems soon worsening in a major way as smoke began to emerge from his right rear brake. That would force Verstappen into retirement.

Sainz would control proceedings from that point on, racing to the chequered flag to claim his third Formula 1 grands prix victory, as Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc followed him across the line in P2. Don’t get carried away though is very much the message which Marko is sending out to Ferrari after his chat with Verstappen at Albert Park.

In that discussion, Marko said Verstappen had told him that he was not having any issues keeping up with Sainz before that issue became terminal, marking an end to Red Bull’s winning ways at the start of F1 2024.

“I spoke to Max and he said that despite the problems, he kept up with Sainz’s pace relatively easily,” Marko told Sky Germany.

“With Max in the race, the outcome would have been completely different.”

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Verstappen revealed that his right rear brake had been “basically stuck on” from lights out, as his run of consecutive race finishes comes to an end at 43, his last retirement also coming at Albert Park back in 2022.

Marko said the cause of this brake failure is not yet known until deeper investigations begin, as he expressed relief that nothing more than that right rear brake caught fire.

“We don’t know exactly yet, but already on the lap when Sainz overtook him, the brake didn’t release,” said Marko in regards to Verstappen’s RB20 brake issue.

“In addition, he got slightly sideways and Sainz overtook him as a result. As a result, the brake got completely stuck and we are very glad that not everything caught fire. We need to evaluate the exact cause.”

Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez managed only P5, with McLaren’s Lando Norris completing the Australian GP podium.

Read next: Where was Sergio Perez? Christian Horner explains reason behind poor Aus GP performance