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Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko added secret contract clause ‘without Red Bull knowing’

Max Verstappen added the Helmut Marko-led exit clause into his Red Bull contract without the Austrian constructor knowing, according to reports. Thanks to the 80-year-old’s role as an advisor to the company, and not the Formula One team, he was able to go above Christian Horner’s head to complete the change.

According to a report from Motorsport.com, the clause was not initially included in the bumper long-term contract that Verstappen and Red Bull signed back in 2022. Instead, it was reportedly added at a later date without immediate knowledge of Horner and the Red Bull Racing team.

This was possible because Marko is one of the two directors of Red Bull Racing, so can act on the team’s behalf and make amendments to the contract. It is claimed Verstappen’s father, Jos, also played a role in the changes as he makes up a key part of his son’s entourage.

The existence of this clause has been known for some time with Verstappen and Marko holding an extremely close relationship. When the latter was placed under investigation for an alleged role in ‘leaking’ the Horner WhatsApp messages, the reigning world champion made it clear that if his ally was to be fired, he would follow the Austrian out of the door.

“I have a lot of respect for Helmut, and what we have achieved together,” he said in Jeddah. “It goes very far. My loyalty to him is very big, and I have always expressed this to everyone within the team, everyone high up, that he is an important part in my decision-making for the future.

“It is very important that he stays. I feel like if such an important pillar falls away, and I have told the team this, that it is not good for my situation as well.”

He later added: “I think it’s also very important that you give the man a lot of respect for what he has done. That comes back also to loyalty, you know, and integrity. So, yeah it’s important that he stays part of the team, also for me.”

As a three-time world champion and the dominant force of F1 in 2024, Verstappen would have had the pick of the grid if he did opt to leave Red Bull, and he would have been able to do so thanks to the exit clause that is tied to Helmut Marko’s future.

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