Helmut Marko teases new Max Verstappen team-mate for the future

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen doffs cap. Britain July 2023

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen doffs cap. Britain July 2023

While Helmut Marko could not imagine Lewis Hamilton ever becoming Red Bull team-mate to Max Verstappen, Lando Norris doing so would be more feasible.

Verstappen and Red Bull have left the F1 2023 competition in their dust, Verstappen having won 10 of the opening 12 grands prix, with Red Bull undefeated overall.

Hamilton meanwhile is staring at back-to-back winless seasons after Mercedes once more have fallen short of the title picture.

Helmut Marko teases Max Verstappen-Lando Norris Red Bull pairing

Verstappen’s long-term future at Red Bull is secure, if he chooses to take it considering his consistent complaints over the Formula 1 workload, with his contract running until the end of 2028.

The second Red Bull seat though is far less secure, with Sergio Perez’s deal up after the F1 2024 campaign.

And while Marko has no interest in giving the fans and media what they want in a Verstappen-Hamilton Red Bull pairing, the former title rivals a recipe for chaos in the same team, he would not be against having Norris alongside Verstappen.

The McLaren driver, contracted until the end of 2025, is regarded as one of the most exciting talents on the grid.

Marko told Motorsport-Magazin.com: “With Norris, I could well imagine that. It’s harder for me with Hamilton though.

“It would certainly be ideal for the public, television, and journalists, but not for team leadership and success.”

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Helmut Marko claims Red Bull need ‘hierarchy’

While Red Bull publicly do not refer to Perez as a ‘number two’ driver, that is the role that he, and any recent team-mate has been forced into by Verstappen’s relentless form.

For Perez, his job is to secure P2 in the F1 2023 Drivers’ Championship, to give Red Bull their first one-two finish in the standings, and Marko says it is important to have a driver “hierarchy” to keep the team running smoothly.

“We as a team prioritise the World Championship, and it’s better if you have a certain hierarchy,” said Marko. “I don’t want to say a ‘number one’ driver, but that it’s clear who is faster.

“The atmosphere in the team cannot suffer. If we look at something like [Ayrton] Senna and [Alain] Prost, you’d have two superstars who only look at each other and put the team in second place.”

Verstappen and Red Bull are now almost certain to retain the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles, Verstappen 125 points clear of Perez while Red Bull boast a lead of 256 points over Mercedes.

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