Red Bull warned they are ‘treading on thin ice’ with Max Verstappen in ‘power struggle’

Michelle Foster
The Red Bull Racing logo and Max Verstappen

A reported exit clause could get Max Verstappen out of his Red Bull deal.

Dutch racing driver Tom Coronel has warned Red Bull they are “treading on thin ice” in their “power struggle” as it could yet see Max Verstappen quit the team.

As Red Bull’s off-track troubles continue to make headlines, triple World Champion Verstappen threw his support behind Helmut Marko during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend when he made it abundantly clear that if Marko was forced out, he would follow him.

Max Verstappen has publicly thrown his support behind Helmut Marko

His comments came in the midst of an investigation by Red Bull GmbH into the leaks, including a widely-released email, into the previously dismissed Christian Horner investigation.

But with Marko sitting down with Red Bull’s higher-ups on the Saturday before declaring he “will stay” on as the team’s motorsport advisor, the threat of Verstappen leaving is, at least for now, on the backburner with the Dutchman calling for unity and “peace”.

“It’s a kind of hand grenade in which the pin has now been carefully pushed back in,” RacingNews365’s Ruud Dimmers said on their latest podcast. “Let’s describe it that way.

“Max was very pissed off. You could tell that in everything, how Max talks. You just had to listen, with his whole attitude, it was very clear.

“He hoped that it [Marko being suspended] wouldn’t happen, but was very clear in what was going to happen then. He emphatically appealed on Friday to think about that carefully.”

Dutch racing driver Coronel believes Red Bull are walking on “thin ice” when it comes to the younger Verstappen with his loyalty to Marko.

“If Verstappen says that, then it will really happen,” he said. “In that respect, they are starting to tread on thin ice at Red Bull Racing.

“They are trying to get away from Marko just a little bit. so that they can push through the decisions a little more easily. Ultimately, that is what I think is happening.

“There is simply a power struggle going on between Austria and Red Bull Racing in England.” recommends

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It’s a power struggle Mercedes are capitalising on as Toto Wolff continues to say how much he would “love” to bring Verstappen over to Mercedes. He’ll even take Marko, joking the team needs a new “mascot”.

“That’s why the teasing is being handed out by Toto Wolff, who says: ‘Marko is also welcome with us’,” said Coronel.

“But don’t forget, Marko has been with Red Bull for 19 years. He really won’t just leave and they won’t just put him there. That’s not respectful and things happen very quickly at Red Bull if you do things like that.

“You have to be able to discuss things and of course some slaps are handed out under the table, but in this snake pit of Formula 1 that’s pretty normal. It’s just high-level politics.”

But at the end of the day, Verstappen’s compatriot believes the 26-year-old will want to be in the fastest car at whichever team has that.

“Don’t forget, we’re talking serious marbles, right? But in the end, only one thing is most important: Verstappen always wants to be in the fastest car,” Coronel added.

That’s something even Wolff has acknowledged, saying: “I’d love to have him, but first we need to sort out our car.

“Like I said before, a driver will always try to be in the fastest possible car. That gives you the best chances of winning races and championships and this is where Max is at the moment.”

Read next: Helmut Marko opens up on Red Bull exit thoughts after flying home with Verstappen