Christian Horner denies involvement in ‘cunning’ plot to remove Helmut Marko

Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner rubbishes talk of a 'cunning' plan to try and oust Helmut Marko.

Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner and motorsport advisor Helmut Marko
Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner and motorsport advisor Helmut Marko

Christian Horner insists there was no plot to try and oust motorsport advisor Helmut Marko from the Red Bull F1 team.

Marko’s future at the team was thrown into serious doubt on Friday when he revealed he faced suspension amid an internal investigation relating to the controversy around team principal Horner.

But after receiving strong public backing from Max Verstappen, and following crunch talks with Red Bull CEO Oliver Mintzlaff, the 80-year-old Austrian confirmed less than 24 hours later that he will be staying with the team.

Marko thanked Verstappen, who effectively threatened to quit Red Bull if Marko was let go, and told Sky Germany: "We agreed on all points. I will continue here. My contract still has three years to run.”

Speaking to Austrian broadcaster ORF before the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Marko rubbished the suggestion he was behind various media leaks and indicated there had been a “cunning” plot to try to get rid of him.

“Absolute rubbish. I'm really happy when I have my iPhone halfway under control,” Marko said.

“I haven't seen this report or any of these chats. I deliberately stayed out of it. To associate me with it was almost like a planned operation, as I realised. ‘Cunning’, as [Niki] Lauda would say.”

Horner said the matter had nothing to do with him, or the Red Bull F1 team.

“I think the rumour about suspension was as news to the team as it was to anybody else. We were quite surprised to hear that,” he said.

“Helmut is a contractor to Red Bull GmbH, so it was an issue between them. We weren't party or part of that discussion.

“I've known Helmut since 1996, and he's played an important role over the years. That role has evolved over the years. I've known him a very, very long time.

“Coming up to 81 years of age, he's still obviously motivated about Formula 1, which is a positive thing.”

Horner was then asked if Verstappen’s show of support had influenced Red Bull’s decision.

“There has been no decision-making process around Helmut, so I am not quite sure where the rumour has permeated from,” Horner replied.

“But it is not something I’ve been involved in.”

Horner went on to add: “My relationship with Helmut is no issue. I think that he's always outspoken, but that's Helmut.

“Everybody has a role to play no matter what that role is. I think this team has been incredibly successful, and it has had tremendous ability for a long period of time. That has been one of the keys to our success.”

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