Max Verstappen is the ‘biggest handicap’ for Helmut Marko, says former F1 driver

Michelle Foster
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen with his hand to his head, speaking with Helmut Marko and Christian Horner. Baku April 2023

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen with his hand to his head, speaking with Helmut Marko and Christian Horner. Baku April 2023

Securing a third Drivers’ title, Gerhard Berger says “never” in his life has he witnessed such a dedicated talent as Max Verstappen, but it’s a problem for Helmut Marko.

Verstappen secured his third title on the trot at this year’s Qatar Grand Prix in the Saturday Sprint, doing so with six races remaining.

Winning 19 Grand Prix in total, he set a new record for the most wins in a season while his 10 on the trot from Miami to Italy was the longest-ever streak.

Gerhard Berger: Best racing driver of all time

His 575 points were a new record for the most points in a single season and his six hat-tricks a new one for the pole, win, fastest lap tally. It was one more than Alberto Ascari completed in 1952 and Michael Schumacher in 2004.

It had Berger in awe.

“Never in my life!” the former F1 driver told Krone.

“Max is a racing driver who always gives 120 percent. Just like [Ayrton] Senna or Schumacher used to be or [Lewis] Hamilton is now.

“I’m convinced that Max is already back in the simulator and playing with all his racing cars.”

As the journalist quipped ‘Max the Possessed’, Berger responded: “For sure. He simply lives with every fiber of his body for his sport, for Formula 1. That is his passion, which is why, for me, he is the world’s best racing driver of all time.” recommends

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Max Verstappen’s success is a ‘handicap’ for Helmut Marko

But the Dutchman’s success is, Berger joked, a problem for Red Bull motorsport advisor Marko.

“That’s exactly what has become the biggest handicap for Helmut Marko, because Max doesn’t need him. With zero errors, Helmut simply has nothing to criticise,” he said with a laugh.

Instead, Marko is having to focus solely on the other side of the garage and Sergio Perez.

Perez’s mistakes, though, do make him an easy target for Marko.

“If you lump Max and Perez together, then Helmut will be fine on average,” said the 10-time Grand Prix winner.

“Just looking at [Charles] Leclerc’s overtaking maneuver against Perez on the last lap of the Grand Prix in Las Vegas, I have to say that not even a beginner makes such a mistake.”

Red Bull predict a close 2024 season

Although Red Bull dominated this season with 21 wins from 22 Grands Prix, the team is expecting a closer challenge next season.

Asked about Marko’s prediction about that, Berger said: “Such statements are typical. Helmut tries to take some pressure out of the boiler.

“Personally, I also see black for all of Red Bull Racing’s competition next year.”

So too does Lewis Hamilton, Berger saying he’s making comments about worries about Red Bull’s advantage to take the pressure off of Mercedes.

“That’s just the language of Formula 1, so that we can start the new year with less pressure,” explained the Austrian.

“Even though I see Red Bull as the clear favourite, Formula 1 is always good for a surprise and something can always happen. In any case, I’m really looking forward to 2024.”

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