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Marko rejects rumours of Verstappen leaving for Mercedes

Marko rejects rumours of Verstappen leaving for Mercedes
© Reuters
Dr. Helmut Marko has downplayed the persistent speculation about Max Verstappen potentially leaving Red Bull after 2024.

Dr. Helmut Marko has downplayed the persistent speculation about Max Verstappen potentially leaving Red Bull after 2024.

It's widely acknowledged that up until a few days ago, Toto Wolff was anticipating a potential shift in the power dynamics at Red Bull that might prompt Verstappen to activate an exit clause. However, former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya remains skeptical. "That's not going to happen," he confidently told Dutch magazine Formule 1.

"Max isn't leaving. I'll bet money on it," said the Colombian, adding: "Believe me, as a driver you never voluntarily get out of a winning car."

The departure of Adrian Newey from Red Bull, however, adds a deeper layer to the narrative, fuelling rumors that Verstappen's mentor, Dr. Helmut Marko, might also leave, possibly taking the celebrated driver to Mercedes.

In an interview with Osterreich newspaper, Marko suggested that Verstappen's talent could have seen him win the recent Canadian GP in a McLaren or Mercedes as well. "Yes," he affirmed.

"Only Max has the overview of the race and the confidence to accelerate when necessary. Apart from that, our team used an absolutely correct strategy."

When confronted with the possibility of Verstappen's sensational move to Mercedes, Marko noted, "But I have just read that they have confirmed (Kimi) Antonelli."

Reports from Bild, RTL, and other authoritative sources confirm that Antonelli's deal for 2025 seems settled, although not officially announced yet.

"We are fully focused on winning the world championship," Marko stated when questioned about the ongoing rumors concerning Antonelli, emphasizing, "We have seen that when you are not fully focused, you quickly lose the ability to win."

Christijan Albers, another former F1 driver, weighed in on the issue, discussing the unique aspects of Sergio Perez's new contract with Red Bull, which might provide the team some leeway if Verstappen decides to leave. "I do think he has a contract with performance clauses so they can get rid of him," he mentioned to De Telegraaf. "I don't think they signed him in the way they did in previous years."

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner pictured on March 8, 2024
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