‘Foolish’ FIA Draws the Ire of Marko for Banning a Max Verstappen-Esque Career Path in F1

Published 12/23/2021, 11:35 AM EST
HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY – JULY 27: Red Bull Racing Team Consultant Dr Helmut Marko talks in the Paddock after qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring on July 27, 2019 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)


Red Bull star Max Verstappen holds the record for being the youngest driver to compete in an F1 race. He never contested in the top feeder series GP2; instead, he was directly promoted to the F1 cockpit. Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko recognized the talent at an early stage and gave him a chance to pilot in the top flight. His efforts finally paid off with Verstappen clinching a world title in 2021.

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The FIA had their reservations when Verstappen was making his debut at 17 years and 166 days. They even increased the minimum licensing age to 18 for an F1 debutant. In a recent interview, Marko slammed the FIA for this decision and called it “absurd.” Notably, his call in the Dutchman’s case proved unerring as he also went on to become the youngest Grand Prix winner in the 2016 Spanish GP.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – DECEMBER 12: Race winner and 2021 F1 World Drivers Champion Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates with Red Bull Racing Team Consultant Dr Helmut Marko in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

However, now that the licensing rules are amended, and they set the minimum age to 18 years, Marko is certainly not a happy man.

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Helmut Marko slams FIA for changing F1 licensing rules

The Austrian advisor has been at the helm of the Red Bull junior program for a long time. He has introduced world champions like Vettel and Verstappen to F1. He is essentially the man who brings tough and talented drivers to the senior team. Admittedly, he is not in line with the minimum age criteria in the sport.

The F1 community widely criticized his move to promote Verstappen in the Toro Rosso seat. “We have been declared crazy by just about everyone,” says Marko about the incident. But the calculated gamble paid off well for the team.

Although it remains a gamble whether drivers who are successful in the entry-level classes can bring the same to Formula 1. You never have that guarantee, although I became quite convinced in the long conversation that Max was ahead of his age,” said the 78-year-old in an interview with Motorsport.

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“The FIA did not see that and has been foolish enough to adjust the entire licensing system so that no one can ever debut so young again. I still think that makes no sense, in my opinion, you should always look at the personality of a young driver,” he added in disagreement with the FIA.

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However, the new rules are in place and Marko will have to abide by them for the times ahead. What are your thoughts on the rule?

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Rituraj Tripathi

254 articles

Rituraj Tripathi is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. A true lover of speed, he is big fan of Lewis Hamilton and finds a future world champion in Lando Norris. Rituraj eagerly looks forward to the paddock moving to the Circuit de Monaco, and he finds Portier corner as the most exciting part of the track.

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