Marko: “Max would stick a Haas on pole”

Helmut Marko, a prominent figure in Red Bull’s Formula One management, is confident that Max Verstappen’s exceptional driving skills would allow him to compete in less powerful cars, citing the example of a Haas used by the likes of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen.

Max Verstappen’s current form in the 2023 Formula 1 season is nothing short of spectacular. With a record ten wins from twelve races, including a remarkable run of eight consecutive wins, Verstappen has established himself as a dominant force in the sport.


Car versus driver debate

The eternal debate in Formula One – whether the driver or the car is the biggest factor in the sport’s success – continues to fascinate fans, pundits and experts alike. The complexity of Formula 1 dynamics makes it impossible to attribute supremacy to just one element, as both the driver and the car play an integral role in achieving victory on the track.


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The car:

The car is undoubtedly a key component in Formula 1. The level of technological sophistication and engineering brilliance that goes into creating a competitive F1 car is unparalleled. Aerodynamics, engine efficiency, chassis design and tyre management are just some of the countless variables that determine a car’s performance. Teams with robust budgets and access to cutting-edge technology often have a distinct advantage, enabling them to develop cars with superior speed, grip and reliability.

In the hands of skilled engineers and designers, a formidable car can set the stage for dominance, often making the driver’s job relatively easy. Cars with exceptional downforce, efficient power delivery and precise handling give drivers the tools to push the limits and extract maximum performance.

A superior car, such as Red Bull’s current RB19 machine, can mask a driver’s weaknesses to some extent, giving them more room for error.


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The driver:

While cars are engineered to perfection, their true potential can only be unlocked by the hands of a talented driver. A skilled driver has the ability to connect with the car on an almost instinctive level, extracting every ounce of performance from it. Their ability to adapt to changing conditions, understand tyre behaviour and make split-second decisions during a race is what separates the great from the good.

In Formula 1, drivers are not just pilots; they are strategists, tacticians and athletes who endure gruelling physical and mental demands. Their fitness, mental toughness and ability to perform under pressure are crucial to a team’s success. A driver’s ability to find the ideal racing line, nail the perfect braking point and exploit the strengths of his car while masking its weaknesses is the essence of their contribution.



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A symbiotic relationship

The driver-car debate fails to recognise that F1 is a symbiotic relationship between the two elements. A brilliant driver can take a competent car to extraordinary heights, while an exceptional car can amplify a driver’s talent. History is littered with instances where a driver’s brilliance has led to victories against superior machines and, conversely, where an average driver has thrived in an exceptional car.



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Helmut Marko: Max on a different level

In an exclusive interview with, Helmut Marko weighs in on the controversial driver versus car debate.

Marko is adamant: “Max would be in a class of his own in any car,” underlining the evolution Verstappen has undergone over the years. He admits: “You can’t compare the Max of 2020 with the Max of 2023, even though they share the same name. He has gained immense composure”.


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Verstappen is like Hamilton

Highlighting Verstappen’s strategic acumen in racing, Marko compares him to Lewis Hamilton, a renowned expert in tyre management.

“The art of reading races has traditionally been associated with Hamilton, watching how he manages his tyres. Max has now reached that level, if not surpassed it, due to his superior basic speed. His development has been remarkable,” says Marko.


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Marko: Max would get pole in a Haas or AlphaTauri

Marko also sees Verstappen achieving commendable results in less competitive cars. In particular, in difficult qualifying conditions, Marko speculates that Verstappen could achieve exceptional results. Citing the Belgian Grand Prix, where Verstappen took pole on a drying track, Marko says:

“In such scenarios, he could put a qualifying-focused car like AlphaTauri or Haas on pole.”

However, Marko believes that Verstappen’s motivation could wane over time in less competitive cars. He notes, “It’s hard to predict how long he would maintain his enthusiasm in an AlphaTauri. Max is unique,” he adds, “and there will come a day when he says, ‘Thank you, I’m done.”


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Verstappen’s F1 journey & future plans

Verstappen’s current contract with Red Bull runs until the end of 2028. However, the two-time world champion has openly expressed his intention to eventually leave F1 if the extensive travel and commitments start to take their toll. In an earlier interview with Sky, Verstappen admitted: “When my contract ends, I’ll be 31. By that time, I’ll have devoted a lot of time to Formula One. The workload is considerable, with a lot of travelling”

Verstappen’s sentiments about travel and his love of life at home hint at a possible transition. His exact longevity in F1 remains uncertain. Until then, Marko expects to enjoy Verstappen’s remarkable contribution to the annuals of the sport.

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One response to “Marko: “Max would stick a Haas on pole”

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