Helmut Marko talks latest Max Verstappen quit threat as Mercedes goals revealed – F1 news round-up

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen arrives at the Jeddah Corniche circuit. March 2023

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen arrives at the Jeddah Corniche circuit. March 2023

It is time to catch up on the key talking points from another, as always, hectic day in the world of Formula 1.

After Max Verstappen again questioned whether the demands of Formula 1 are worth it, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko had his say on the Dutchman’s future, while Mercedes have detailed their two key focuses as they plot to reel in Formula 1’s dominant force.

All that and much more, so let us dive into the action…

Helmut Marko doubts Max Verstappen emulates Fernando Alonso

These days in Formula 1 it is becoming much more about the dedication rather than age being the barrier to competitiveness, as the 42-year-old Alonso is proving at Aston Martin, while Lewis Hamilton is not too far behind at 38.

But, at 25 Verstappen is already casting doubt over how much longer he will be sticking around in Formula 1, citing the expanding workload, not just in terms of more grands prix and the addition of sprints, but also the amount of marketing work he is required to do.

Verstappen is contracted to Red Bull until the end of 2028, and Marko can foresee Verstappen calling it quits not long after, or even there and then.

He told Motorsport-Magazin.com: “I don’t think he’s a guy who will drive as long as an Alonso, for example, but will be someone who says at some point: ‘That’s it.’

Read more: Helmut Marko update on Max Verstappen after driver questions ‘is this still worth it’

Mercedes home in on two key focus areas

The Mercedes team, and probably every F1 outfit not named Red Bull, would probably not be too upset if Verstappen suddenly walked away, considering none of them can come close to challenging him on race day this season.

Mercedes though have set their sights on doing exactly that and returning to the title picture from F1 2024, and with 10 rounds of the current season to go, the team has revealed its two priorities.

“When we return, our focus will be on two things,” said Mercedes’ chief technical officer Mike Elliott.

“First, making sure we are learning everything we can and feeding it into next year’s car. And then the fight for P2 in the championship. While we want to be winning titles, P2 is still important for everyone in the factories. It’s important to show progress from last year and end the year strongly. We want to take the momentum into the winter.”

Read more: Mercedes name two key focuses for final 10 races as they target title push

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Charles Leclerc told he will be rewarded for Ferrari loyalty

Team and driver are in an awkward scenario right now, where despite Leclerc having in countless interviews re-affirmed his love for Ferrari and desire to stay, acknowledging rumours linking him to rival teams, Ferrari are yet to be moved to start contract negotiations, his current deal to expire after the 2024 campaign.

But, former F1 racer David Kennedy believes this loyalty will reap rewards for Leclerc, the Ferrari team currently P4 in the Constructors’ standings and enduring a difficult campaign where a title challenge has not materialised.

“With Frederic [Vasseur, Ferrari team principal] on board, I’d be amazed if he doesn’t begin to show that this thing is turning around,” Kennedy told PlanetF1.com.

“I think the reward will come for Charles.”

Read more: ‘Charles Leclerc will be rewarded for his patience with Ferrari’

James Allison ‘stigma’ hurting Ferrari to this day?

Before moving on to Mercedes, Allison was a key figure of the Ferrari team, working there from 2000-2005 and then again from 2013-16, rising to the role of technical director.

He abruptly left the team in August of 2016 though after the sad passing of his wife, and respected Italian journalist Leo Turrini says the manner with which Ferrari dealt with Allison’s leave of absence after that tragedy, continues to leave a damaging legacy.

Ferrari president at the time Sergio Marchionne had requested Allison returned to Maranello, after temporarily being allowed to work from the UK, with Allison’s desire for more time not granted. The rest was history.

“Quite a few foreign technicians hesitate in the face of Ferrari proposals because they know the Scuderia’s recent history,” Turrini declared on his blog.

Read more: James Allison ‘stigma’ hanging over Ferrari in their search for top F1 talent

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