Helmut Marko wants Max Verstappen title win to wait until after Singapore

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen, Helmut Marko and Honda's Masashi Yamamoto celebrate. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

Helmut Marko has given his opinion on when he believes it will be best for Max Verstappen to win his second World Championship.

While both team boss Christian Horner and Verstappen have been playing the ‘it’s not over until it’s over’ card in regards to this year’s Drivers’ Championship, it appears Red Bull senior advisor Marko is not singing off of the same hymn sheet.

The Dutchman could be crowned World Champion for a second time this weekend at the Singapore Grand Prix but Marko is hoping he eeks it out a little longer.

For the 79-year-old Austrian, he believes the Japanese Grand Prix, which follows the Singapore race in the F1 calendar, would be the perfect time for Verstappen to retain his crown.

“From a marketing point of view, winning the title would be better in Japan, because of our engine partner Honda,” Marko told Austrian broadcaster ORF.

“But in general we can assume that Max will be World Champion. It’s just a question of when.”

While not officially their engine supplier, Honda have been helping behind the scenes after announcing their intention to leave the sport at the end of the season.

Following the Japanese company’s announcement and perhaps not wanting to return to the dark days of being Renault’s customer, Red Bull created their own engine creating factory called Red Bull Powertrains. Honda have been helping the team while they make the transition to being fully independent.

While Verstappen’s title win does look all but mathematically assured, that has not always been the case throughout the season.

Following Ferrari’s return to the summit of the sport at the start of the season and Red Bull’s unreliability problems, which caused Verstappen to DNF in two out of the opening three races, it looked like the title may be going back to Ferrari for the first time since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007

At one point Verstappen was 46 points behind Charles Leclerc and Marko has praised Red Bull’s ability to come back.

Max Verstappen after qualifying. Italian Grand Prix September 2022.

“We were 46 points behind after three races,” Marko said.

“That was predominantly due to the car being overweight. The first failure was caused by a weight-saving measure. The second failure was due to technical reasons. Due to the excess weight, the car was initially pushing over the front axle.

“We successively introduced a weight reduction – something like two, three kilos per race. On top of that came a brisk development programme.

“We were mainly concerned with the front end of the car when we made the improvements. Max needs a car that really bites at the front, i.e. turns in very spontaneously. What then happens with the rear doesn’t interest Max so much.

“Our car got better and better, Ferrari on the other hand had technical defects, plus driving errors, and so the gap turned into a comfortable lead for us over time.”

Verstappen is currently enjoying the best winning streak of his career having won the last five races in a row.

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