Helmut Marko makes huge Max Verstappen claim amid Cashgate

Max Verstappen won the Japanese Grand Prix to become a double world champion last weekend.

Max Verstappen’s move around the outside of Charles Leclerc at last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix was something to behold, and the Dutchman is yet to reach his full potential.

This is according to Red Bull adviser, Dr Helmut Marko, who also suggests that the Dutchman is still well under his full potential.

Verstappen came into last weekend with 11 victories under his belt in the opening 17 rounds of the season, and that had given him a 104-point championship lead over Leclerc.

The reigning champion needed to beat the Monegasque by eight points to seal his second consecutive world title, while also seeing off team-mate, Sergio Perez, by six.

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Red Bull’s megastar took pole position with a phenomenal lap in qualifying, before the drivers headed into a wet race on Sunday.

Leclerc initially got a better start from second, and looked as though he was going to be ahead coming out of Turns One and Two.

However, the 24-year-old was forced to put the anchors on when he got to Turn One, as his momentum would have taken him straight into the path of the 31-time race winner had he braked later.

Nonetheless, it took tremendous bravery and trust in his opponent for Verstappen to hold onto the outside, and he emerged from Turn Two ahead.

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The Hasselt-born racer negotiated a Safety Car restart after Carlos Sainz’s heavy crash had caused a red flag and a delay, and he established a lead of 27 seconds in a 28-lap sprint race.

Leclerc was penalised for leaving the track and gaining an advantage on the final lap while defending from Sergio Perez, who inherit second.

Full points were awarded since the race did not stop under red flag conditions, so Verstappen was crowned champion for the second year running.

After a dominant title defence, there is still plenty more to come from this generational talent.

“He is still young and still not at the peak of his powers, the way he has reeled off his races this year was really impressive and the way he overtook Leclerc on the outside after the start in Suzuka was out of this world,” Dr Marko told OE24.

Verstappen needs two more wins to break the record, held jointly by Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher, for the most in a single season.

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Dr Marko would love that, but he also places an emphasis on Perez beating Leclerc to second in the Drivers’ Standings.

“The 13 wins will come true and if possible, a 14th, but then it would be more important for us that Perez secures his second place,” he explained.

Verstappen has now equalled Fernand Alonso for both race wins and championship successes.