Helmut Marko opens up on Red Bull exit thoughts after flying home with Verstappen

Jamie Woodhouse
Helmut Marko and Max Verstappen

Helmut Marko has always been one of Max Verstappen's biggest fans.

Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko, who reportedly out-of-character flew home from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with Max Verstappen instead of Christian Horner, revealed he already contemplated leaving Red Bull late last year.

On the track, all is very well indeed for Red Bull, who have started the F1 2024 campaign with a pair of 1-2 finishes, Verstappen taking the wins ahead of Sergio Perez. But off it, new chapters continue to be added to a rather alarming saga.

Helmut Marko considered leaving Red Bull last year

While Verstappen eased his way to victory at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, this was overshadowed by what was going on outside of the cockpit as Verstappen found himself embroiled in speculation that Marko faced possible suspension from Red Bull, or may quit of his own accord.

Verstappen, while calling for “peace” within the Red Bull ranks, also warned that his and Marko’s futures with Red Bull were intertwined.

It has been noted that while Verstappen has been clear and stern in his public support of Marko, the same has not been true when pressed on the future of team principal Horner, who recently had a case brought against him by a fellow employee dismissed by Red Bull GbmH after an internal investigation.

Verstappen’s father Jos meanwhile has publicly called for Horner’s exit, and while Horner has said his and Marko’s relationship is “no issue”, that claim is growing increasingly vulnerable, with a claim from De Telegraaf now adding a fresh layer to the uncertainty.

The publication claims that while Marko traditionally flies home from a grands prix alongside Horner, Marko getting dropped off first in Austria, Marko instead flew home from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with Verstappen.

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Meanwhile Marko, who hopes the Red Bull off-track drama will be “resolved as soon as possible”, told the publication that the topic of leaving Red Bull was already on his mind last year, but said “respect” is owed to team founder Dietrich Mateschitz who passed away in October 2022.

“I was already thinking about leaving at the end of last season,” Marko revealed.

“But I think we should also think about team founder Dietrich Mateschitz and his legacy, what his ideas were and where it has taken us. We owe that to him, but I also see it as a kind of respect to an incredibly amazing personality.”

Amid the uncertainty at Red Bull, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has made his position clear on Verstappen, saying he would “love” to make the dominant Dutchman their 2025 replacement for the Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton.

And Marko is sure that doors will open up across the grid should Verstappen at any point decide to leave Red Bull.

“What happens when Max is done with it? Then we will discuss that internally,” said Marko. “But I’m sure a door will open for him everywhere.”

If Verstappen does retain the World Championship in F1 2024, then he will match Sebastian Vettel’s streak of four titles in a row with Red Bull, which he achieved between 2010-13.

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