Last week, the Formula One community was abuzz with rumours of an internal power struggle at Red Bull Racing. Reports in Brazil’s Globo newspaper claimed that tensions were escalating and that team principal Christian Horner was planning to sack advisor Helmut Marko.
However, the Red Bull team have vehemently denied the claims. So what’s behind the rumours, and is there any truth to them?
Kravitz reveals paddock talk
Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz has been in the F1 paddock for years, with an ear to the ground for all things F1. Reporting from Texas during the US Grand Prix weekend, Kravitz was baffled by the speculation.
“Do you want to know about a story you might have read about Helmut Marko and an alleged falling out with Christian Horner?” Kravitz began.
“I haven’t heard that in the waters, in the paddock jungle drums, in the paddock rumour mill. We haven’t seen any evidence of a fight between Horner and Marko…”
The lunchtime litmus test
Indeed, Kravitz emphasised the closeness between Horner and Marko, stating that the two regularly eat lunch together. “They are close friends,” he said.
When an Austrian newspaper asked Marko about rumours of a falling out with Horner, Marko was defiant: “I have a contract with Red Bull until the end of next year. When and how do I stop? I decide. Not Mr Horner, for example”.
Verstappen weighs in
Red Bull’s star driver Max Verstappen, who has a close relationship with Marko, was also drawn into the discussion. When asked, he reiterated: “You don’t break up a winning team. Verstappen went on to question the motives behind such rumours. “I think the atmosphere in the team is very good,” he insisted.
The official statements: Unanimous denials
In light of the allegations, Christian Horner was quick to deny the claims.
Speaking to Mirror Sport, he insisted: “I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today without Helmut. Helmut Marko echoed these sentiments in an interview with Sky, saying: “We’ve known each other for 27 years. We built this together…”
So where does that leave us? Ted Kravitz perhaps said it best:
“If it turns out that Marko is leaving at the end of this year, instead of the end of next year when his contract runs out, then you’ll know that what’s happening right now is ‘something’. And if he doesn’t, then it wasn’t!”
The big picture
At the heart of the matter is Max Verstappen’s relationship with Helmut Marko. Verstappen insists that Marko has been “instrumental in my development, he’s a good guy to have around”.
For now, the rumours remain just that – rumours. There is no hard evidence to support the claims of a rift between Horner and Marko. With the team focused on a title challenge, one can only imagine that putting an end to such distracting stories will be high on the agenda. Time will tell if there are any changes to come, but for now it’s business as usual at Red Bull Racing.
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