Helmut Marko denies Red Bull silenced him in Saudi Arabia because of CEO joke

Dr Helmut Marko risked the ire of Red Bull's management after joking about the new CEO of Red Bull.

Red Bull’s key advisor Helmut Marko has dismissed any suggestion of friction with Red Bull’s management after Oliver Mintzlaff was appointed, replacing the late Dietrich Mateschitz. 

Outspoken Marko, who has never tried to hide his thoughts on the F1 landscape, told the Osterreich newspaper that he “won’t let” Red Bull prevent him from speaking out.

“Don’t worry,” Marko said. “I’ll always say what I think at any time.”

Austrian broadcaster ORF had claimed that Red Bull’s press team had stopped Marko from participating in post-race interviews following the Saudi Arabian GP.

READ: Sergio Perez spotted celebrating with his former team

It was suggested that the efforts to silence Marko were a punishment after he joked about Mintzlaff overseeing the 7-0 defeat of Red Bull-owned RB Leipzig to Manchester City in the Champions League.

Marko claimed his comments about the football match had been “exaggerated.” 

“My relationship with Mintzlaff is really ok. We exchange ideas regularly. But I always have the desire to remain independent,” Marko insisted. 

With rumours swirling over a reported growing rift between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, Marko offered an explanation for the former’s absence from the team’s post-session debrief.

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“Max had just gotten over a bad flu,” Marko insisted. “Did you see how he looked when he got out the car? It really didn’t go well for him.”

READ: Christian Horner in difficult position as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez ‘friction’ re-emerges

Verstappen was believed to be in hot water with the team for ignoring orders to reduce his pace towards the end of the race, grabbing the fastest lap point from Perez as he crossed the finish line.

The Dutchman’s decision to fight for fastest lap meant that he retained the lead in the Drivers’ Championship, which is set to be a tight race between Verstappen and Perez if the performance in the first two contests continues through the season.

“Five laps before the end, they were told they could drive at full speed. Checo is also a good tactician, so he also tried to set the fastest lap but made a mistake in the first sector and that was that,” Marko said in Verstappen’s defence.

“We have two top drivers and we have to make sure we get as far ahead as we can before the wind tunnel penalty has an impact.”