Red Bull’s Max Verstappen an ‘important figure’ in manufacturer’s ‘chess game’

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko is well aware of the value Max Verstappen has in attracting partners, like Porsche perhaps?

Verstappen joined the Formula 1 grid in 2015, with support from Red Bull.

He started out with the Toro Rosso junior team, with the potential that Red Bull saw in him justifying such a risk, considering he was only 17 at the time, quickly becoming clear.

It wasn’t until 2021, however, that the Austrian team was able to deliver a car capable of fighting for the title, and in that first attempt Verstappen would crown himself world champion at the end of an epic battle of a season with Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton.

And ahead of the start of the 2022 season, Verstappen has put pen to paper on a new contract with Red Bull, a record longevity in Formula 1 as it ties him until 2028.

This means the deal will comfortably bring it into the era of new power units from 2026, an important activity for Red Bull, who want to demonstrate to potential new manufacturers that they have the fastest driver on the grid. .

“Max Verstappen is certainly an important figure in the whole game of chess,” said Marko

“It’s not absurd for the manufacturers to look at this and in that respect it was important for the team to be able to say: ‘Look, we have the fastest driver and the equal best’.

“In this world, there are always discussions and attempts to bring someone in. If you have a guy like that in the team, it acts as an incentive for other team members and partners. “

Red Bull is of course strongly linked to starting a partnership with Porsche from 2026, with the German brand potentially taking over the Red Bull powertrain, while fellow Volkswagen Audi is also firmly engaged in the conversation to enter Formula 1.

So this is the perfect example of what Marko talks about when it comes to Verstappen’s value for onboarding partners.

Marko, however, was not ready to be drawn into giving any confirmation.

When asked how much he would enjoy keeping the number one on Verstappen’s car in 2026 for the Porsche deal, Marko replied: “Well, if I said ‘good’ or ‘a lot’ now, you’d think we had made all kinds of offers.

“All this is still open, although it is logical that we are the most attractive partner for manufacturers. Number 1 on the car in 2026 would of course be a wonderful addition, but we’re still miles away from that at the moment.

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