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Marko: Red Bull retirements make Verstappen a ticking time bomb

Red Bull's Helmut Marko has admitted that if the team can't get on top of their reliability issues, Max Verstappen may not be able to maintain his calm.

Helmut Marko says Max Verstappen has been able to keep calm about the current situation at Red Bull, following his title defence hitting a major stumbling block with two retirements from the first three races. Having lost out on a significant haul after retiring from second place at the Bahrain and Australian Grands Prix, Verstappen trails championship leader and Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc by 46 points. While he has expressed his frustration over the radio, and in some post-session interviews, Marko reckons Verstappen is dealing with the disappointments in a mature way behind the scenes. "He is a lot calmer," Marko explained to Austrian broadcaster ORF . "After his retirement [in Australia], he returned to the pit box and we discussed things calmly. However, in this case, we knew we could run into that problem, because we also had to deal with that in qualifying, so it didn't come out of the blue in that regard. "He is an emotional and passionate driver who will always give his opinion. But, in my view, he is a lot calmer – calmer than in the past."

Verstappen a "time bomb" if problems continue

Verstappen is yet to put a clear gap between himself and teammate Sergio Perez, with the Mexican even having the upper hand in Saudi Arabia until an unfortunately-timed Safety Car compromised his race. Marko believes this is down to a lack of fundamental confidence with the car at this early stage of F1's new technical era. "With the set-up of the car, you sometimes lack the confidence to maintain his extreme driving style," he said. "You can see that this makes Checo closer to him than in the past." However, Marko can't guarantee that Verstappen's well-known hot-headedness won't make an appearance if the frustrations continue to add up, and admitted the Dutchman's patience might not be infinite. "If we don't win again soon, then he is indeed a time bomb!" Marko concluded.

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