F1

Max Verstappen going nowhere, says Red Bull group CEO Oliver Mintzlaff

The three-time reigning world champion has cast doubt on his future as adviser Helmut Marko faces a team investigation.

Max Verstappen’s future is in the spotlight (Giuseppe Cacace/AP)
Max Verstappen Max Verstappen’s future is in the spotlight (Giuseppe Cacace/AP) (Giuseppe Cacace/AP)

Max Verstappen will not leave Red Bull, according to the crisis-hit Formula One team’s group CEO Oliver Mintzlaff.

Verstappen cast doubt over his future when he claimed he will quit the world champions if motorsport adviser Helmut Marko is forced out.

The PA news agency understands 80-year-old Austrian Marko, an instrumental figure in Verstappen’s career, faces a Red Bull investigation following the probe into claims of “inappropriate behaviour” against Christian Horner.

Helmut Marko, left, has been a long-standing influence on Max Verstappen
Helmut Marko, left, and Max Verstappen at last year's Netherlands Grand Prix Helmut Marko, left, has been a long-standing influence on Max Verstappen (Tim Goode/PA)

Verstappen’s deal with Red Bull runs until 2028 and, when asked by the PA news agency ahead of Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix if the Dutch driver will remain with the team, Mintzlaff replied: “Of course. He has a contract.

“Max is a great driver and hopefully we will win tonight. I am here just for racing. That’s it.”

Horner’s female accuser was suspended earlier this week as a direct result of Red Bull’s inquiry which exonerated the 50-year-old team principal.

Marko is employed by the F1 team’s parent company, Red Bull GmbH.

Asked if he could be suspended following the race in Jeddah, he told Austrian broadcaster ORF on Friday night: “Ultimately, I’ll decide for myself what I do. The theoretical possibility always exists.”

But in a fresh twist, Marko said prior to Saturday’s race that he is confident he will be in Australia for the next round of the season on March 24.

“The conversation with Mintzalff was a very good one, said Marko. “I think everything is cleared.

“I will not be suspended. Our goal is to win the world championship. For that we will have to work hard.”

PA has approached Red Bull Racing for comment.

“I have a lot of respect for Helmut, and what we have achieved together,” said Verstappen after putting his Red Bull on pole position for Saturday’s race.

Max Verstappen took pole for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Darko Bandic/AP)
Max Verstappen in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Max Verstappen took pole for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (Darko Bandic/AP) (Darko Bandic/AP)

“It goes very far. My loyalty to him is very big, and I have always expressed this to everyone within the team, everyone high up, that he is an important part in my decision-making for the future.

“It is very important that he stays. I feel like if such an important pillar falls away, and I have told the team this, that it is not good for my situation as well.

“Helmut built this team together with (Red Bull’s late owner and founder) Dietrich (Mateschitz) from day one, and he’s always been very loyal to the team.

“It is very important that you give the man a lot of respect for what he has done, and that comes back to loyalty and integrity, so it is important that he stays.”