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Helmut Marko

Marko opens up on Verstappen contract talks

Red Bull's Helmut Marko has offered an update on how contract discussions are going with Max Verstappen.

Verstappen Marko Abu Dhabi 2021
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

Helmut Marko has revealed how contract discussions with Max Verstappen are progressing, having revealed last month that there's an intent from both sides to extend his deal beyond the end of 2023.

Verstappen has two years left to play on his current contract with Red Bull, and team advisor Marko says serious talks will be held in the coming weeks due to a delay across January.

"We will be holding talks with Max in the next few weeks," he told AutoRevue.

"His manager [Raymond Vermeulen] was difficult to talk to because his son was at the 24-hour race in Dubai together with Jos [Verstappen]."

But if Verstappen is hoping for a big bump upwards in his salary of $25 million dollars, with driver earnings currently falling outside the scope of the F1 budget cap, then the Dutch driver is in for a rude awakening.

"With Verstappen, we're already close to the limit," Marko said. "At some point, that's the end."

No concerns of Verstappen leaving for Mercedes

With Lewis Hamilton's contract also coming to an end at the end of 2023, the possibility is there that Verstappen could have his head turned by the Brackley-based team, but Marko is confident Verstappen won't be tempted away from Red Bull.

"I don't think Max will go then," he went on to comment.

"I believe that the events at Silverstone made him less inclined to change sides (Mercedes celebrated victory after a Verstappen/Hamilton collision resulted in a hospital visit for the Red Bull driver). And it can't get much more expensive than that!"

Marko believes there's a straightforward nature to the relationship between Red Bull and Verstappen, a reciprocal honesty that should ease contract negotiations when both sides sit down.

"Even though we saw that we certainly weren't going to win a World Championship with the Renault engine, he stood by the team," he said.

"We always told him openly what our plans were when we started working with Honda. He is also informed about other developments. That's why I believe his statements that he feels very comfortable with us."

Ensuring continuity across the Red Bull team

Marko explained that the intent at Red Bull is to extend the existing contracts of all the team's key players by up to five years to ensure continuity in the medium-term future.

"All you hear from everyone is how great the data for next year is," Marko mused when asked about the progress for 2022.

"But I haven't given a damn about that for a long time. I only see the progress we're making, and it's significant. We're known for being able to reach the top level very quickly if we're not quite there at the beginning.

"We have [Chief Technical Officer, Adrian] Newey who is incredibly committed again. We're in the process of extending all the contracts to five years to really ensure continuity."

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