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Wolff Offers Marko Role Amid Red Bull Uncertainty

Wolff Offers Marko Role Amid Red Bull Uncertainty

09/03/2024

In a dramatic twist, Toto Wolff extends an unexpected offer to Helmut Marko, shaking the Formula 1 world and hinting at potential shifts within Mercedes and Red Bull.

In a stunning declaration that’s stirring the Formula 1 paddock, Toto Wolff, the Mercedes F1 team principal, has extended a role to Helmut Marko at the German outfit amid uncertainties over his future at Red Bull.

Marko’s tenure as Red Bull’s motorsport advisor is under scrutiny following revelations that emerged in Saudi Arabia, potentially leading to his imminent suspension.

This comes on the heels of an internal investigation by Red Bull into allegations that Marko leaked confidential information to journalists about claims directed at the team’s principal, Christian Horner.

Despite Red Bull’s stringent media silence policy, enforced due to the confidential nature of the accusations against Horner by an employee, leaks have still reached the press.

With Horner cleared of any wrongdoing, focus now shifts to Marko’s future within the organization.

A pivotal meeting with Oliver Mintzlaff, Red Bull’s CEO, is scheduled in Saudi Arabia, where Marko’s fate might be decided.

Marko’s potential departure from Red Bull could also lead to the exit of Max Verstappen, the team’s star driver, thus creating an opening for Mercedes.

Mercedes’ interest in Verstappen is evident, viewing the Dutch driver as a potential successor to Lewis Hamilton.

Wolff has hinted at the possibility of enticing Verstappen by bringing Marko on board in a non-executive role, akin to that held by Niki Lauda.

Wolff, while displaying a smile during an interview with Austrian broadcaster ORF, emphasized Marko’s value as a “favourite enemy” and “true racer,” whose loss would be a significant blow to Red Bull.

However, he acknowledged that Mercedes needs to enhance its performance to allure Verstappen, noting that seat availability in 2025 and 2026 would depend on the team’s ability to provide the fastest car.

Wolff’s relationship with Verstappen and his father, Jos, is described as good, yet Wolff remains cautious, indicating this does not necessarily presage an imminent change.

This situation highlights the intricate dynamics and backstage strategies shaping the Formula 1 grid, unveiling alliances and rivalries that could influence its future.

Ferrari and Mercedes F1 Ready to Pounce on Newey, Waché, and Verstappen

Verstappen unequivocally stated last night that if Marko were to be ousted from Red Bull, he would not stay.

“The team knows what I think and how important his presence is,” warned the Dutch driver.

When asked what exactly he would do if Marko were removed, Verstappen replied, “To say it would be madness is an understatement.”

In any situation that divides a team, one man’s loss is another’s gain. Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes F1, didn’t hesitate to “flirt” with Marko with a touch of humor.

“We miss our mascot Niki Lauda, and Helmut has always been our favorite enemy. At the age of 80, he fits the bill. But he doesn’t have a red cap yet.”

A “Marko clause” could allow Verstappen to leave his Red Bull contract before the end of 2028.

“If Max leaves, it would be a tremendous loss because many mechanics and engineers try to work for Max. Max is undoubtedly the most valuable asset since there is currently no faster driver,”

Marko said yesterday after qualifying, when he revealed he might be suspended by his employer.

Indeed, if Verstappen leaves, other key members of the Red Bull team might follow. The names of Pierre Waché and Adrian Newey were already circulating in Ferrari rumors even before the whole Horner affair, and speculation in the Jeddah paddock is becoming more persistent and coherent.

Ferrari has “intensified” contacts with Red Bull’s technical director, Pierre Waché, Newey’s right-hand man.

Some of the engineers working directly under him, with much shorter notice periods, are also being targeted by Vasseur. The aim is to have them in place before Waché’s, and perhaps Newey’s, arrival…

christian horner fiona hewitson. christian horner fiona hewitson

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