Could Marko exit really spark Verstappen bombshell

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Red Bull has been gripped by the saga surrounding alleged inappropriate behaviour by team principal Christian Horner. The Briton was investigated by an independent lawyer, with the case dismissed by Red Bull GmbH ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

His name was not completely cleared, however, as it appears that several parties within Red Bull Racing or outside are not yet satisfied with this outcome.

An anonymous email source delivered files to hundreds of journalists, Horner’s rival team principals, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem containing numerous screenshots of WhatsApp conversations and photos allegedly sent to the complainant from Horner – the authenticity of which has never been confirmed.

During the Bahraini weekend, Jos Verstappen also expressed himself in no uncertain terms about Horner’s position, preferring to see him leave due to the possibility of the team tensions ‘exploding’.

Where Red Bull was looking for things to have cooled in Saudi Arabia – Horner called for a line to be drawn under the whole issue, also citing that his wife and children are suffering greatly from the situation – it was announced on Thursday that the accuser was suspended – with that, the saga seemed to have come to an end for now.

Within Red Bull Racing, Horner enjoys the support of Chalerm Yoovidhya, who holds 51 per cent of the shares, compared to the 49 per cent held by Red Bull GmbH – for which Marko works as a motorsport consultant. This means that Horner, as team boss, in effect has no control over the Austrian.

Marko exit? What then for Verstappen?

On qualifying day in Saudi Arabia, RacingNews365 learned reports of an investigation being launched into Marko by Red Bull were accurate.

The Austrian by no means denied this in conversation with ORF, when asked about a potential suspension ánd whether he would still be with Red Bull at the next Grand Prix.

It has not been disclosed why Marko would be suspended or want [or need] to leave but rumours point to him as a possible leak in ‘Horner-gate’.

“How shall I put it? It is difficult to explain, but in the end, I decide what I am going to do,” Marko responded to ORF, adding that a suspension was a possibility.

Horner revealed to Viaplay in the Netherlands that he is not aware of the rumours.

Marko will, in the coming days, have a meeting with Oliver Mintzlaff, the managing director of Red Bull GmbH. There, his future will be the focus.

Should Marko be suspended or leave Red Bull, this will possibly have major consequences for the team. Will Verstappen stay in a team without Marko?

That the love between Jos Verstappen and Horner has [temporarily] cooled became clear in Bahrain. Mercedes sees its chance to open the door wide and lay out the red carpet for Max Verstappen, with the German manufacturer diligently searching for a successor to Lewis Hamilton, who is leaving for Ferrari at the end of this year.

The bond between the Verstappens and Marko is very close.

Marko is seen as the person who discovered Verstappen, who gave him the chance to make his F1 debut at the age of 17. So when the Austrian was more or less to be retired by the team, it was Max who personally stood up for him, Marko eventually signing a new three-year contract.

There is even said to be a ‘Marko clause’ in the Dutchman’s contract that would allow him to leave should the motorsport advisor depart.

“Max is definitely the strongest asset, there are no faster drivers at the moment,” Marko explained. “Losing him, that would be a huge loss. Also for the mechanics and engineers, who all strive to work for Max.”

Verstappen’s position within Red Bull is undisputed and much also depends on the Dutch star driver. “I think it is very logical and obvious that Max is the most important part of the team,” added Marko.

Verstappen very clear: “Without him I cannot continue”

Speaking to media including RacingNews365 after taking pole in Saudi Arabia, Verstappen said: “I have always indicated that Helmut is very important for the team and for me to continue with the team of course in the future. I think I have always been very clear that he has to stay. He has to stay until his death.

“Red Bull knows where I stand in this and hopefully they respect that. I hope they understand me because obviously, we have been on the road with each other for a long time. I don’t see the option of him leaving, I’ve always been clear about that. I’ve always indicated that he has to stay, without him, I can’t continue.”

How to proceed now?

The storm has by no means subsided and, according to various sources, the power struggle is far from over, with fireworks still to be expected in the coming period.

Should Marko be suspended or leave Red Bull, the cesspit is likely to open once again. What is clear is that Red Bull is currently investigating where the leak regarding ‘Horner-gate’ is and, should this become clear, it could have consequences on team personnel.

Toto Wolff can watch quietly from a distance as the bubble at Red Bull looks set to burst… or will the team finally manage to calm tempers?

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