Toto Wolff teases Red Bull chief Helmut Marko, who spent years offending Lewis Hamilton, is welcome at Mercedes amid Christian Horner scandal

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has cheekily suggested he could offer Helmut Marko a job – despite his lengthy feud with Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull adviser Marko’s future at the reigning constructor’s champions is in doubt following the Christian Horner scandal.

Verstappen says Marko must stay at Red Bull if he is too

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Verstappen says Marko must stay at Red Bull if he is tooCredit: Getty

Horner was cleared of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ towards a female colleague, who has now been suspended by Red Bull Racing following an investigation.

Marko, the team’s motorsport adviser, has now admitted he could face disciplinary action if found guilty of releasing confidential information to the media during an ongoing investigation.

The decision could prove critical to Red Bull’s future, with superstar driver Max Verstappen insisting he will follow Marko out of the door if the 80-year-old is forced out.

Mercedes – who are already trying to sign Verstappen to replace Hamilton – could now swoop for Marko to make the team more attractive to the Dutchman.

Silver Arrows team principal Wolff teased offering his Austrian compatriot a non-executive role on the board, like the late Niki Lauda.

“We’re missing our old mascot anyway,” Wolff said affectionately with a smile during an interview with Austrian broadcaster ORG, remembering the racing legend.

“Then we’ll just take Helmut. He’s the right age. He doesn’t have a red cap [Lauda’s trademark headwear], but then he’ll come to us.”

He added: “Helmut is not a child of sadness and was – or is – our favourite enemy. But he is a real racer. If they lose Helmut, it will certainly be a loss for Red Bull and for the team.”

Marko [right] could be suspended by Red Bull amid the Horner scandal

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Marko [right] could be suspended by Red Bull amid the Horner scandalCredit: Getty

On the idea of Verstappen moving across to Mercedes, Wolff said: “We have a seat available in 2025 and 2026.

“But Max will drive where there is the fastest car, and today that is the Red Bull.”

Red Bull’s Christian Horner has awkward exchange in first interview since his cleared allegations

Hamilton – who will join Ferrari for the 2025 season – has already publicly said he would have no problem with his former title rival Verstappen taking over his Mercedes seat.

However, the potential arrival of the controversial Marko may be a different story for a man who has championed diversity in sport.

Hamilton has found himself the target of multiple verbal barbs from Marko in recent years.

Marko's comments about Perez were met with criticism from Hamilton

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Marko’s comments about Perez were met with criticism from HamiltonCredit: Getty

In 2021, Marko accused Hamilton of faking his injuries after Verstappen’s car landed on his head at the Italian Grand Prix.

He later labelled the Brit as responsible for the sacking of F1 race director Michael Masi following the controversy at that season’s dramatic finale in Abu Dhabi.

Marko also claimed Hamilton should have retired after losing the title, before stating that the latter’s Ferrari switch was born out of jealousy of Verstappen’s higher salary.

Hamilton has usually kept a dignified silence to the constant belittling comments, only hitting back on a few select occasions.

The seven-time world champion publicly condemned Marko based on apparent quotes from the Austrian regarding the Black Lives Matter movement – comments which later proved to be fake.

Hamilton was led to believe Marko had called BLM a ‘distraction’ for drivers and took to social media to respond, before deleting his words.

Hamilton, who has launched his own diversity commission, has worked to open the sport up to a wider audience

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Hamilton, who has launched his own diversity commission, has worked to open the sport up to a wider audienceCredit: Getty

“Helmut, it deeply saddens me that you consider fighting for equal treatment of black people and people of colour, a distraction,” Hamilton said on social media.

“I’m actually quite offended. A distraction for me was fans showing up in black face to taunt my family on race weekends. A distraction for me was the unnecessary and additional adversity and unfair treatment I faced as a child, teen, and even now, due to the colour of my skin.

“I hope this speaks volumes to the few people of colour you do have on your team, about your priorities and how you view them. Wake up. This sport needs to change.”

Although the statement was later removed, Hamilton did come back at Marko’s offensive – and real, this time – comments about Sergio Perez in September.

Hamilton [left] has found himself a public target from Marko [right centre]

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Hamilton [left] has found himself a public target from Marko [right centre]Credit: Getty

After the Italian Grand Prix, where Red Bull driver Perez came second, Marko told Servus TV: “We know that he has problems in qualifying, he has fluctuations in form.

“He is South American and he is just not as completely focused in his head as Max [Verstappen] is or as Sebastian [Vettel].”

Marko then issued an apology, one that Perez himself has accepted after they held a ‘private conversation’.

When asked about Marko’s comments, British driving legend Hamilton told Sky Sports F1: “It’s completely unacceptable what he said.

“Whilst we say there is no room for any type of discrimination within this sport which there should be – no room for it – to have leaders and people in his position making comments like this is not good for us moving forwards. I think it just highlights, firstly, the work that still needs to be done.

“There are a lot of people in the background that really are trying to combat these sorts of things but it’s hard to manoeuvre if there are people in the top that have those sort of mindsets, that just stop us from progressing. Not surprised, to be honest.”

Wolff and Hamilton have combined for unparalleled success at Mercedes

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Wolff and Hamilton have combined for unparalleled success at MercedesCredit: Getty

He added: “I think this is not something that you just apologise [for] and it’s all okay. I think there needs to be more done.

“Teams, when they’ve had individuals, particularly drivers, make comments but [also] some individuals in the background – they usually are removed or at least they put out a quote and say they don’t support that sort of thing.

“So it is interesting that they haven’t done so for this one, but it’s not my team and it’s not how we move as a team.

“It just shows how important it is that we continue to do the work, the work that I’m trying to do with my team and with the sport. We still have a lot of work to do moving forward to make sure that this is a more inclusive environment.”

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