Marko admits Verstappen contract ‘has clauses’

Fri, 8 March 2024, 08:00

Mar.8 (GMM) Christian Horner has pleaded for the end of a scandal that endangered not only his top job at Red Bull, but could lead to Max Verstappen’s shock exit.

“Every contract has clauses, that’s clear,” said Dr Helmut Marko, amid reports Verstappen’s 2028 deal allows the Dutchman to easily exit in the event Marko leaves the team.

“We have to see how the whole thing develops.”

Although an internal investigation into the saga cleared Horner of wrongdoing in his behaviour with a female staffer, the saga rolls on – especially after Verstappen’s father Jos publicly called for the team boss to quit.

“I spoke to Jos following the (Bahrain) grand prix,” Horner said in Saudi Arabia, where Red Bull GmbH’s sporting CEO Oliver Mintzlaff is slated to attend.

“I think it’s in everybody’s interests collectively that we’ve agreed to move on, to focus on the future. And we both have a vested interest in his son to get the best and to provide the best cars for him and to get the best out of him.”

Triple world champion Verstappen, 26, has cleared tried to walk a fine line between the two obvious factions – with Marko, Verstappen and Mintzlaff on one side, and Horner and Red Bull’s 51 percent Thai shareholder on the other.

“With Didi (Mateschitz), this matter would have certainly been different,” Verstappen is quoted as saying by the Swiss newspaper Blick, referring to the deal in late 2022 of Red Bull’s co-founder and figurehead.

However, he appeared to deny his own father’s claim that Red Bull will implode if Horner stays at the helm.

“We’ll, we’re both here now,” Verstappen said. “I’d certainly like a quieter weekend than in Bahrain. A place where everyone feels good and can work well.

“I hope that we can draw a line under what has been said and what happened in Bahrain,” he added. “If there are issues, we try to solve them internally.

“It would be good if we finally talked about our great car. Hardly anyone mentions that,” Verstappen smiled.

80-year-old Marko, however, thinks of the off-track scandal is not affecting Red Bull on the track.

“As soon as practice starts, everyone is fully focused,” he said. “That was also the case in Bahrain. The pitstops and strategy worked perfectly.”

Horner appealed to the media on Thursday for an end to the constant speculation and intrigue, as it comes to light that the woman who made the accusations has now been suspended on full pay.

The Daily Mail newspaper claims that were inaccuracies in her testimony to the investigator, amid rumours she also knows Jos Verstappen on a personal level.

Horner said the ordeal has been difficult not only for him, but also for his wife and children. “I understand that it’s difficult for his family,” former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher told Sky Deutschland, “but it all came from him.

“Formula 1 and Red Bull stand for values and if something like this comes up, it needs to be cleared up.”

The biggest risk for Red Bull is that Horner’s stance ultimately leads to the break-up of the dominant team – especially in light of the rumoured ‘Marko clause’.

But former Haas boss Gunther Steiner told Bild newspaper: “They (Mercedes) won’t get Max. He surely has a secure contract with Red Bull.”

You may also like