Max Verstappen warns Red Bull as Helmut Marko teases exit – F1 news round-up

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen in conversation with Helmut Marko in the Red Bull garage at the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen in conversation with Helmut Marko.

Qualifying for the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is in the books, but talking points off the track arguably grabbed the headlines.

It was once more a story of perfection on the track for Red Bull as Max Verstappen stormed his way to pole, yet turbulence off it as the future of Red Bull Racing senior advisor Helmut Marko was plunged into doubt. Let us dive into all the major talking points.

Helmut Marko in talks over Red Bull future

After Marko’s shock reveal to ORF that the “possibility exists” that he will be suspended by Red Bull before the Australian Grand Prix, Marko shed further light on where he and Red Bull go from here.

Further talks are planned between both parties on Saturday, as Marko too must decide whether he wishes to carry on at Red Bull.

Read more: Helmut Marko hints at potential Red Bull exit as date set for crunch talks

Max Verstappen warns Helmut Marko must stay at Red Bull

Marko has played a key role in bringing a plethora of racers through the Red Bull junior system and into Formula 1, with Verstappen serving as arguably the greatest success story yet.

Verstappen understandably then feels a great sense of “loyalty” towards Marko and has stressed to Red Bull that him leaving would be “not good for my situation” at the team.

Read more: Max Verstappen delivers clear Red Bull warning with Helmut Marko future in doubt

Toto Wolff: Helmut Marko exit would be Red Bull ‘setback’

Red Bull and Mercedes, where Toto Wolff serves as team principal, have not always seen eye to eye, though that it seems has not soured relations between Marko and Wolff, who described the daunting Red Bull stalwart as his “favourite enemy” in the paddock.

But if Marko is starring at the Red Bull exit door, then Wolff very much believes this will be a “setback” for Red Bull Racing.

Read more: Toto Wolff weighs in on Helmut Marko saga as doubt cast over Red Bull future

Audi to complete full Sauber takeover

Audi will hope to take the fight to Red Bull and Mercedes in a future Formula 1 as they prepare to join the grid from 2026, but that will no longer be via a partnership with Sauber.

Instead, the German brand has confirmed its intention to complete a 100 per cent takeover of the Sauber Group, while former McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl has been appointed as the Audi F1 team CEO as part of the resulting management changes.

Read more: Audi F1 confirms intent for full takeover of Sauber and announces personnel changes

Carlos Sainz has ‘smooth operation’ to treat appendicitis

Carlos Sainz had returned to Ferrari duties for Thursday practice after missing Wednesday media duties due to illness, though the Spaniard was rushed to hospital on Friday morning and required surgery as it became clear he was suffering from appendicitis.

That opened the door for Ferrari’s 18-year-old reserve driver Oliver Bearman to step up for the rest of the Saudi Arabian GP weekend, with Sainz taking to social media to confirm, in typical Sainz fashion, that the surgery went well.

Read more: Carlos Sainz posts statement following ‘smooth operation’ on appendicitis