Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has revealed that he didn’t want to take his chances on Max Verstappen. The Austrian, who is also in charge of Red bull’s driver development program didn’t want to lose Verstappen.
Helmut Marko on Max Verstappen
There were many rumors suggesting a potential move to Mercedes, should the Brackley based outfit lose Lewis Hamilton. Marko claims Red Bull didn’t want to lose their top star to a rival team. This forced the Milton-Keynes based team to pull out all the stops.
Max Verstappen recently signed a 3-year deal with Red Bull till 2023. Reports suggest Verstappen’s contract stands at a cool 12M pounds (excluding other monetary benefits) a year. This would make Verstappen one of the highest-paid drivers in Formula one- only behind Hamilton, Vettel, and Ricciardo.
Truth be told, Red Bull didn’t have too many options when it came to hiring a star driver. With Leclerc staying at Ferrari and Hamilton extending or demanding a much more lucrative deal, RedBull had no choice. With dwindling options, it was crucial for the team to lock down Verstappen.
Speaking to AUTO BILD, Marko said: “The new contract was not cheap,”
“But I didn’t feel like playing poker.”
“I spent the holidays trying to fix the contract, I was very worried about losing Max to Mercedes in 2021.”
Verstappen to stay till 2023
Verstappen finished 2019 3rd in the drivers’ standings. The Dutchman picked up three victories for Red Bull in a season that was a litmus test for Honda. Redbull will continue to use Honda engines till 2021, following a 2-year extension.
Despite securing Verstappen for the foreseeable future, Red Bull have another problem on their hands. The team still doesn’t have a reliable number 2 driver. Alex Albon had an impressive debut last year but is still miles off the pace when compared to Max. Historically, Red Bull never takes drivers back and swapping drivers regularly affects team stability and Constructors’ standings.
This leaves the team with limited options when it comes to selecting future drivers for Red Bull Racing.
Helmut Marko, who oversees the Red bull junior programme, is known to rule with an iron fist. The Austrian is famed for providing. blunt, honest answers when quizzed on the ins and outs of F1. But, many have criticized Marko for sabotaging drivers’ careers with poor decision making and strategies employed.
2020 will see silly season returning again. Several high profile drivers will be without contracts at the end of the year. These include- Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. Fasten your seatbelt folks, we’re in for a wild ride.