Helmut Marko makes Max Verstappen admission amidst motivation concerns

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen and Red Bull celebrate his third World Championship.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull celebrate after he secures his World Championship.

Max Verstappen is not driven by the number of titles to his name, he’s motivated by “fun” and when that stops, he’ll retire from Formula 1 says Helmut Marko.

Verstappen is the 2023 Formula 1 World Champion, the Dutchman having scored enough points in Qatar’s Sprint race to retain the title for a third season.

He did so with six grands prix in hand and promptly went on to win the Qatar Grand Prix and cement his claim as the best driver on the grid.

Max Verstappen yet again hinted at early retirement

Sunday’s win marked Verstappen’s 14th of this season with the Red Bull driver closing in on his own record for the most wins in a single season, 15, which he set last year.

Rivals are worried about much longer his dominance could continue with Verstappen conceding that depends on Red Bull and the car they design.

“Depends a lot also on the package, right? That’s how Formula 1 works,” he said in Qatar. “Personally, I’m still young even though I’m already in F1 for a while. Yeah, definitely, I have quite a few more years in me to be able to operate at my best.”

But, he added: “To be honest, I think it’s more about how long I want to be here. That’s different.”

That was just the latest hint from the 26-year-old that he has no intention of staying on the grid long-term with it being suggested his current Red Bull contract that runs through to 2028 could be his last.

Verstappen’s statement was put to Marko by ORF with the Austrian saying: “It only means that he will continue as long as he still has fun in Formula 1 and that he does not care how many titles it will ultimately be.

“When he no longer enjoys it, he will leave.

“That will be his decision. He is a fantastic driver, but if he is no longer motivated there is no point in continuing.”

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For now, though, the good times continue with Marko targeting another four wins in the last five races to bring Red Bull’s tally to the season up to 20.

But first, a 50th Grand Prix win awaits Verstappen who could achieve that milestone in the next race in America.

“Anyone who knows him knows that he doesn’t let up or let up,” said Marko. “One goal is definitely the 50th Grand Prix victory for him, but we also have goals for the team.

“I think 20 wins could be possible and that’s what we want. Given the form he’s currently in and our car is also good, it’s within the realm of possibility.”

But next year Marko reckons Verstappen and Red Bull will have to work even harder to maintain their status as the top driver and team.

“Formula 1 is an extremely competitive environment. Next year will be a new season,” he said. “With McLaren, you see how quickly things can change in Formula 1.

“We therefore have to work hard to maintain our superior performance. It is certainly not certain that we will be strong again next year.”

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