Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko acknowledges his team must do better to help Max Verstappen contend for a Formula 1 championship, lest risk losing him in the near future.
Having already suffered an engine failure at the Italian Grand Prix a week ago, Verstappen’s woes were compounded when he lost power at the start of last Sunday’s Tuscan GP, causing him to fall back through the field where he became collateral damage in a clash between Pierre Gasly and Kimi Raikkonen.
Afterwards, the Dutchman did not try to hide his frustrations with his Honda power unit.
“We should not even have been in that position – it is really frustrating that we had another retirement,” he said. “But it is what it is. I am really not happy at the moment, but I can’t change it.”
Verstappen went on to tell Dutch broadcaster Ziggo Sport that he was “fed up with it”, and Marko knows it is imperative the situation improves in order to keep his star driver happy.
“Max has a fixed contract for 2021, but we are well aware that we also have to provide him with a competitive engine,” he told Sport1.
“Honda has replaced engineers. Maybe that’s why there were the unexpected difficulties [at Monza and Mugello].
“They have made progress, but Mercedes is still superior, especially in the area of batteries. We have to start improving there now.”
While Verstappen’s “official” contract with Red Bull runs to 2023, Marko’s comments would seem to indicate that there is an exit clause after the 2021 season – something the 22-year-old could look to activate if he remains unable to contend with reigning champ Lewis Hamilton.