How Helmut Marko’s ringtone shows Max Verstappen is ‘on another level’

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen getting ready before a practice session. Barcelona, Spain, June 2023.

Max Verstappen getting ready before a practice session. Barcelona, Spain, June 2023.

Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen being able to identify Helmut Marko’s ringtone from inside the cockpit in Spain was a sign of his “added bandwidth” that only a select few drivers have.

Verstappen raised a few smiles when he came on to team radio during FP2 on Friday in Spain, having heard an unexpected sound in the background while he was taking in his practice laps around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

He asked: “Someone’s phone is going, is that Helmut’s?” To which race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase responded: “Erm, yes…”

With the two-time World Champion having now opened up a comfortable lead at the top of the standings this season with his fifth win out of seven races, following on from an already record-breaking season last year, ihs team principal thinks that little moments like that show how his brain capacity is beyond the ordinary.

“I think in 2016 he was very raw. He was incredibly fast, hugely, and naturally talented,” Horner said when reflecting on the differences in Verstappen from his first win around Barcelona seven years ago to his victory over the weekend, as per

“He still has that natural speed and tremendous ability. But I think what he has now is the experience, roundedness and the [mental] capacity.

“When he’s recognising Helmut Marko’s phone ringing from within the car, he’s just got this added bandwidth that has put him on another level, and I think the exciting thing about him is he’s still getting better.” recommends

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As for Verstappen himself, he was asked about the progress he has made himself in the time that has passed from his first victory to now – with his win at the weekend being his 40th in Formula 1.

He was reluctant to pick out any specific people who have helped him along the way, because he did not want to do anyone a disservice.

“I cannot name one particular person because there’s so many people involved that spend so many hours and days and, you know, they worked hard,” he said.

“I mean, we had tough years where you know, you keep on hoping that you’re closing the gap to try and win a championship and then yet another year where it was not working out.

“But we just kept on believing, kept on trying to put everyone in the right place to work to their best. And yeah, too many people to name because if I will name one person, I’m not giving enough credit to someone else, because at the end of the day it’s a whole team effort that has to come together, you know, to achieve what we’re doing now.”