Max Verstappen, Helmut Marko

Marko: Verstappen cannot switch to Ferrari

Max Verstappen, Helmut Marko

Max Verstappen is without doubt the fastest rising star in sport, let alone Formula 1, his youth and enormous talent are a massive asset that is ‘owned’ by Red Bull a fact that team consultant Helmut Marko was keen to point out amid suggestions that Ferrari are keen to sign the teenager.

Speaking ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, where Verstappen scored a sensational victory in his debut for Red Bull, Marko told Motorsport- Total, “Contrary to all the rumours there is no performance clause in Verstappen’s contract.

“If we do not release him, he cannot switch to Ferrari,” insisted Marko.

Word in the paddock is that Verstappen’s father Jos is not impressed by Red Bull’s fall from competitiveness this season and that feelers have been put out regarding his son’s future, with Ferrari an obvious target.

The assumption is that there is a performance related clause, which supposedly allows Verstappen (junior) to depart the energy drinks team before his contract expires at the end of 2018.

Although unlikely that Verstappen will find himself in red next year, there is no doubt he will be high on the Ferrari shopping list for 2018 and beyond, but much will depend on the future of their current drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

Well connected F1 journalist Leo Turrini reported this week:”During the pre-season test in Barcelona, Niki Lauda told friends confidentially that Vettel has a pre-agreement with the Germans [Mercedes] for next season.”

Since last year, when the deal is said to have been struck, things have changed drastically at Maranello. Their current car is a race winner and Maurizio Arrivabene must take credit in turning around a team in apparent turmoil into contenders once again.

Vettel’s pre-agreement might not matter much if Ferrari maintain their competitiveness, becuase he would no doubt stay for as long as he can win. 

But Kimi Raikkonen is approaching the end of his career and although he may survive beyond 2017, it is not very likely that he will be around after 2018. This is when Verstappen would be ripe to be plucked from Red Bull and that would be a free of charge move.

But should Ferrari continue to excel, Vettel would probably stay while Raikkonen may not and thus. in such a case, a bid for Verstappen would not be out the question, but as Marko hinted releasing the teenager would come with a hefty price tag if they would indulge it at all.

Ex-F1 driver Johnny Herbert told Sky Sport in Sochi, “I am sure that Max and his father Jos will look around if Red Bull does not improve.”

“They must show whether they have title potential or not, and it would surprise me if they do not have a performance clause in the contract, even if Red Bull generally pen very long contracts,” added Herbert.

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