Last week’s Austrian GP was a real Red Bull fest and one the owners badly needed, Max Verstappen’s furious catch-up after a bad start from the front row, the euphoric Dutchmen on the stands, the fantastic weather, the Hollywood end: Spielberg 2019 was certainly an event.
Finally, the controversial FIA investigation into Verstappen’s overtaking manoeuvre against Charles Leclerc in the third last lap also came to a positive end for Red Bull.
But quite a few observers believe: If the FIA Verstappen had taken this victory away, Mateschitz, one of the most important and powerful players in Formula 1, would have considered well whether he wants to continue doing this sport.
To assume an emotional decision from the gut of the clever businessman would not do justice to Mateschitz’ intellect. But Helmut Marko doesn’t rule out the possibility that had Verstappen been denied, a drastic decision to quit F1 wouldn’t have been a surprise.
Formula 1 in which such a victory is denied because of such a manoeuvre could be the Formula 1 “that we are not interested in”, Marko confirms the conspiracy theories in the case of the case in an interview with ‘Motorsport-Total.com’. And he emphasises: “If victory had been taken from us, it would certainly have had repercussions”.
The 76-year-old Marko leaves open the question of what effects that would have had. It’s conceivable that Red Bull would have dropped out of Formula 1 after the expiry of the current Concorde contract (end of 2020).
From his point of view Verstappen’s manoeuvre was by no means punishable: “Max was in front, Leclerc left completely open. He could have covered and driven in. He knew exactly that he couldn’t get out cleverly with his bad rear tires, and then Max would have driven around on the outside.” said Marko.
“Then Leclerc pulled in, although he had to know that Max was there. De facto he drove Max into the car. But that’s Racing. Finally we saw a race! The TV ratings all around were great. There were only positive reactions and agreement. It was similar to when we won our first Formula 1 title.”
After Spielberg, many had the feeling that there could be a penalty after the judgments in Canada and France. In view of the precedents, the question to Marko is justified as to whether he would have reacted as calmly as Ferrari team boss who rather graciously didn’t lodge a protest – and the Austrian admits: “No. But we have always said, even in Monte Carlo, that the rules are wrong.”
“The stewards are bound. If an incident is passed on to them, they are bound by the rules and may have to punish them.
“That incident should not have been passed on to them. But the new man doesn’t yet have the sovereignty and experience of a Charlie Whiting.
“Of course I would have been upset. But I have always said that there must be other rules. Firstly, not so many things should come to the stewards
“Secondly, they should not be forced to always pronounce a punishment immediately. They should have much more leeway in their decisions,” Marko says.
The new FIA race director, and replacement for Charlie Whiting is Michael Masi, and is the one who first looks at racing situations with his team, then forwards them to the stewards or not at all. It’s only when they are given an incident, they are they forced to judge it.
The next race is at Silverstone in the UK this weekend.