Helmut Marko pinpoints two moments when he saw a changed Max Verstappen

Sam Cooper
Christian Horner, Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko celebrate the win. Hungary July 2022

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko celebrate.

Helmut Marko highlighted the two moments from this season he saw a change in Max Verstappen after the Dutchman secured his second World Championship.

Marko was instrumental in the early career of Verstappen, being part of the decision-making team in first bringing him into Toro Rosso and then promoting him to the Red Bull seat.

It has been six years since Verstappen first made his winning debut with the team and he has now added two world titles to his name

But this season, the Dutchman has been praised for his maturity and Marko has picked two moments from the 2022 campaign when he realised a change had occurred in Verstappen.

“I always remember him saying [when he was] 46 [points] behind, he needs 33 or 36 races to catch up,” he told Sky Sports F1. “It didn’t take so long fortunately, but he’s far more relaxed. He’s a much more mature driver.

“Like in Budapest or Spa in the first corner, first lap. I thought ‘who is in this car?’

“The lead car passes and once he is in free air, he shows his guts. So it’s a big step and I think it’s not the end what I’ve seen from his performance.

“That’s Verstappen. He was just nursing again [in Japan].

“We were thinking of making a pit stop so we have fastest lap, because in our calculations, we needed it for the Championship. But then we saw [it was] too risky with the conditions, two second margins.”

Verstappen’s title was confirmed in unusual circumstances with the 25-year-old only finding out during the post-race interviews and Marko said that even Red Bull had calculated the title was not his just yet.

“Unbelievable,” Marko said. We only found out [once] the speaker was saying calculations of the World Championship, because our statistics said we are one point behind so big surprise but a very nice surprise.”

The Dutchman equalled Alberto Ascari, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mika Häkkinen and Fernando Alonso on two titles, five behind Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton’s records, but Marko said Verstappen may walk away before he reaches that figure.

“I thought that Michael never could be broken and then Lewis did the same amount. I think there has to be so many factors together so that you can achieve something.

“He’s not the type of those who goes for records, I think one day [he] says ‘fine’ and then will walk away.

Read more: FIA explain how Max Verstappen was able to clinch World Championship in Japan