Max Verstappen responds to speculation surrounding Red Bull ‘power struggle’ and Helmut Marko

Thomas Maher
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen speaks to the media during the FIA Press Conference at the United States Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen has been the most vocal critic of the sprint format.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has labelled all the rumours and speculation surrounding his team as ‘BS’ ahead of the US Grand Prix.

In recent weeks, speculation has exploded surrounding the future of Helmut Marko and his position as Red Bull’s motorsport consultant – with rumours of an internal power struggle going on between himself and team boss Christian Horner.

Last week, it was reported that a crunch meeting would be held in order to decide on the future of Marko within Red Bull, with the 80-year-old Austrian immediately addressing the situation in an interview with Austrian media.

Helmut Marko: I decide when I stop, not Christian Horner

Speaking to OE24, the 80-year-old was asked how he was doing, and replied: “Good! Contrary to many assumptions I have to disappoint the, as they say, doomsayers.”

That’s because, according to Marko, there has been no crisis meeting, summit, or crunch talks.

“There [was] no summit this week,” he said. “I have a contract until the end of next year. When and how I stop, when it’s over, I decide and not, for example, Mr. Horner.”

Horner himself spoke with the UK’s The Mirror, in which he expressly denied there is any desire on his part to see Marko removed from his position.

“Without Helmut, I wouldn’t be in the position that I am today,” he said.

“Like with the young drivers that he has given an opportunity, he also gave me that opportunity. We’ve always enjoyed a very strong and open relationship. Of course, there are things that we disagree on now and again, but I think that’s healthy.

“We speak very regularly about all aspects. For Helmut, it’s slightly different to how it used to be since the passing of his friend and colleague Dietrich [Mateschitz], but he still has a very valuable role that he plays within the team and there is absolutely no intent or desire from me, or anyone within the team, to see that change.

“For as long as he wants to continue – he’s still a very spritely 80-year-old – I don’t see any change in the way that we work. Roles evolve and the business has evolved so much since we first came into the sport. Operationally, I run this on a day-to-day basis.

“For any significant decisions, of course, we confer, whether it be drivers or strategic calls. It’s a partnership that has worked for many, many years. Everybody has their role and function to play.”

Max Verstappen labels speculation ‘BS’ ahead of US Grand Prix

Speaking in the FIA Press Conference ahead of the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas this weekend, Max Verstappen was asked for his opinion on the supposed power struggle – the rumours emerging a year, this weekend, after the death of Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz.

“I saw that, from the outside, people were trying to basically talk some BS because I think the mood in the team is very good,” Verstappen said, in response to a question about the mood within the Milton Keynes-based squad.

“Everyone knows exactly what their role is. And of course, [there were] sad times last year when Dietrich passed away, but, you know, we’ve tried to keep that legacy, keep moving forward, and everyone that we have right now in the team is very important to that success that we’re having.”

Verstappen is also rumoured to have considerable sway in the outcome of any supposed power struggle, siding with Marko’s continued authority as the Austrian played a crucial role in getting Verstappen signed up to Red Bull and into the senior team as quickly as possible.

“So that’s why there are  also no changes for the future,” Verstappen said. “So, I think that basically explains it.”

Having just wrapped up his third World Championship in a row, the Dutch driver spoke about lighter topics as he revealed he’d taken some time to enjoy himself after the Qatar Grand Prix. recommends

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“Nothing major, just a little bit with friends,” he said, when asked about some private title celebrations.

“I mean it was also just nice to to be home a little bit before heading into this triple-header so nothing too crazy.”

Heading into this weekend’s race in Austin, does he feel he’s the man to beat once again on track?

“Well, I mean, looking at the season, yes, but it’s a Sprint weekend,” he said.

“We have to nail FP1 to make sure that the cars working well for qualifying.

“So a bit bit early to say anything at the moment.”

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