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F1 Rumor: Max Verstappen to Leave Red Bull to Join Mercedes Because of Christian Horner, Helmut Marko Concerned

Published 03/04/2024, 7:04 AM EST

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Helmut Marko is worried about the way things are unfolding at Red Bull Racing. After the first race, many rumors started to circulate in the paddocks about race winner Max Verstappen leaving the team. The Christian Horner situation could be a factor in this but details of an exit clause in Verstappen’s contract could also lead to his exit with Mercedes eyeing him.

The race winner has always been close to the Red Bull team principal. However, since the Horner accusations, and add to that, Max Verstappen not taking Horner’s side, it seems like there is trouble in paradise and what adds to the mix is Jos Verstappen being spotted with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff in Bahrain. This had many wondering what are the Verstappens up to.

Auto Motor und Sport has reported that Helmut Marko is concerned about Horner’s controversy playing spoil sport within the team’s dynamics. According to a recent tweet, the Red Bull director is concerned about Max Verstappen leaving and even taking Adrian Newey with him. But on the other hand, it was reported that Christian Horner claimed that the team could do without them.

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There has been plenty of drama surrounding Red Bull Racing in recent weeks. Jos Verstappen and Christian Horner were seen sharing a pleasant chat during the Free Practice session at Bahrain International Circuit on Thursday. But as per Telegraph, Jos, and Horner had a heated exchange the next day in the latter’s office in the paddock, although the Dutchman later came back to apologise.

After his son won the Bahrain Grand Prix, Jos Verstappen has reportedly told those close to him that his son might leave Red Bull if Horner stays. However, that is not the only issue worrying Marko.

Another aspect that has perturbed Helmut Marko is that this issue might hinder Red Bull’s future partnership with Ford. With the American car manufacturing giants reportedly having an exit clause in their contract, it will be up to the stakeholders as to how to tackle this situation.

The situation at the Red Bull garage is tense and to make things worse, Mercedes has been eyeing down their star driver. Following the first race, came rumors of Max Verstappen’s plans on moving to Mercedes. Jos Verstappen was spotted talking to Toto Wolff, and the speculations began with Max Verstappen’s reported release clause in the open, things could get tricky for Red Bull.

Max Verstappen’s release clause revealed

The word around the circuit is that Max Verstappen is unhappy with the way things are going down in Red Bull. Christian Horner is caught up in the middle of a huge controversy and things are not looking that good for the team off the track. Recently, Jos Verstappen has been very vocal about not liking the fact that Christian Horner is keeping his position as TP.

That being said, he has been looking out for his son and wants him in a good team that can support his career. The current world champion is rumored to go to Mercedes and when Toto Wolff addressed the situation as well. When asked about Verstappen joining Mercedes in 2025 to replace the outgoing Lewis Hamilton, he said, “I think the driver will always choose the quickest car. That is fundamentally what it’s all about at the moment. Red Bull is the quickest car, so that would, in my opinion, always be the priority.” However, Wolff also said, “Everything is possible.” On top of this Verstappen’s reported exit clause could also lead to his exit.

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According to F1-Insider, the 26-year-old would be free to walk away if another key Red Bill figure, Helmut Marko, decides to leave.

They claim that an exit clause exists in the Dutchman’s Red Bull contract, which runs until 2028, that makes it possible for Verstappen to immediately leave should team director Marko quit. This scenario now appears possible following the investigation into Christian Horner.

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F1-Insider also asked Gerhard Berger, a close friend of Marko, about the situation. He reportedly said, “As of now: Horner stays, Helmut Marko and Adrian Newey quit and Max goes to Mercedes.” Considering that things are not looking good at the Red Bull garage, there are chances of Adrian Newey leaving too, and with that, the Milton Keynes-based outfit runs the risk of losing the mastermind behind the championship-winning cars.

Do you think Mercedes will bring in Verstappen to replace Lewis Hamilton and could Newey also walk out of the Red Bull exit door? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Written by:

Viren Mirpuri

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Viren Mirpuri is an F1 Writer at EssentiallySports. With a Degree in Mass Media and a Specialization in Journalism, Viren is known for his speedy race day coverage outside of discussing the engine technicalities. Whether he's dissecting the latest technical innovations or unraveling the drama on and off the track, he ensures that his readers stay engaged and informed.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare