Max Verstappen indulges in banned pre-Japanese GP activity as Helmut Marko lets slip

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull's Max Verstappen looks over his shoulder in Bahrain.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, looks over shoulder.

Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko quickly hit the mute button after he said “too much” on Max Verstappen’s use of his downtime after a frustrating DNF in Melbourne.

Verstappen had been looking to equal his own F1 record winning streak by notching up a 10th in a row with victory at Albert Park, but that plan went up in smoke – as well as the rear right brake on his Red Bull RB20 – by the second lap of the race.

Helmut Marko reveals secret Max Verstappen skiing outing

Verstappen will now look to put that disappointment behind him by returning to winning ways at the Japanese Grand Prix, as he chases a third win in a row at Suzuka, with Marko opening up on one of the ways Verstappen has been trying to switch off from Formula 1 between rounds. Only, it is a way that he is supposed to be banned from doing so.

Marko claimed to OE24 that Verstappen has been skiing in Japan ahead of the race weekend, but Verstappen revealed ahead of F1 2024 that he had not been skiing for five years due to not only his own concern over injury, but because his bumper Red Bull contract, running until the end of 2028, carries a “no dangerous sports” clause that also covers a skiing ban.

Quizzed on Verstappen’s reaction to his Melbourne DNF, Marko said: “Unfortunately, a defect like that happens sometimes. In the meantime, Max has been skiing in Japan in the most marvellous, best deep snow in the world.”

And so when this apparent contractual ban was raised with Marko, the Austrian responded: “I’ve already told you too much anyway…”. recommends

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This clause is one which has been used against Verstappen before to crush his hopes of appearing at the Red Bull Formula Nürburgring event in September 2023, where four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel – who won all four of those titles with Red Bull – took one of their F1 cars around the infamous Nordschleife.

On that occasion, it was Marko himself who stepped in to deny Verstappen.

“I wanted to do it, but I was not allowed by Helmut,” Verstappen confirmed when speaking at last year’s Canadian Grand Prix.

“He knew that I would try and go to the limits. I would have loved to do it.

“I didn’t want to start unnecessary issues. I heard this thing was coming up, and Helmut was sitting at the table when it came up, and he said: ‘No, no, no, you’re not doing that!’”

Verstappen will chase a 57th F1 career win at Suzuka this weekend.

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