Huge Max Verstappen twist as Red Bull power plot thickens

Michelle Foster
The Red Bull team in the traditional photograph with the Monza trophies.

Red Bull celebrate Max Verstappen's record-breaking 10th straight win at the 2023 Italian Grand Prix.

Amidst rumours of a power struggle at Red Bull, Ralf Schumacher has warned Christian Horner not to try to oust Helmut Marko as Max Verstappen “wouldn’t tolerate it”.

According to a report from Brazilian publication Globo, all is not well at Red Bull despite the team securing another championship double and Verstappen claiming a third successive World title.

Despite an almost three-decade relationship and Marko being the one to bring Horner over to Red Bull, the relationship has soured of late following Marko’s numerous contradictory comments about Sergio Perez’s future, topped by his xenophobic remark.

Could Max Verstappen have the final say in Red Bull’s power play?

Throw in Horner taking a more active role at Red Bull’s junior team AlphaTauri, something that used to be under Marko’s remit, and tensions have reportedly been climbing to the point that a crucial meeting is said to be taking place this week.

Explaining the background to the reported fall-out, former F1 driver turned pundit Schumacher told Sky Deutschland: “In the past, there was a rumour that AlphaTauri was to be sold. But the sale was then prevented from Salzburg because it was another wish of the late Didi Mateschitz. Then it was decided that more support was needed.

“Christian Horner, in turn, took this as an opportunity to say, ‘If I have to support more, I also have to have more influence’.

“The owner’s family was originally of the opinion that there wasn’t necessarily a need for two teams in Formula 1.

“Now I have the feeling that Horner has taken over the AlphaTauri theme to make the team as successful as possible. Possibly being able to sell at a higher price at some point. That’s the intention behind it.”

However, Horner may have overlooked one huge aspect in his alleged power play – Max Verstappen.

The Dutchman is very close to Marko, who was the one who spotted his talent during his single season in European Formula 3 and opened the door to his meteoric rise into Formula 1.

As such Schumacher believes Verstappen “wouldn’t tolerate” Marko being unceremoniously ousted from Red Bull.

“Horner would be well advised not to put any further pressure on him. That wouldn’t end well for him,” he said.

“The connection between Dr. Marko and Verstappen should not be underestimated. Dr. Marko promoted him very early on and is always on his side.

“We hear that Verstappen wouldn’t tolerate it, but could rather do without Horner.”

He believes the Briton is short-sighted in trying to get rid of Marko, as the 80-year-old “won’t want to have the stress of traveling to racetracks around the world forever.” recommends

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Horner and Marko clashing over AlphaTauri line-up

But the Perez comments and Horner’s extended role at AlphaTauri aren’t the only issues between the Red Bull team boss and the motorsport advisor, there’s also the AlphaTauri line-up.

Last month Red Bull confirmed Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda would be the junior team’s 2024 line-up, but Horner wasn’t keen on continuing with the Japanese driver.

“Horner is of the opinion that Yuki Tsunoda is no longer the right driver,” says Schumacher.

Marko, though, is the one who is in charge of Red Bull’s junior ranks.

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