Marko issues apology, insists Verstappen won’t be ‘unfair’ in season finale

Dr Helmut Marko said Red Bull and Max Verstappen are now focused on winning the season finale in Abu Dhabi to clinch the World Championship.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen ahead of 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi.v1

Senior Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has issued an apology and backed down from his earlier claim that Max Verstappen didn’t hit the brakes as Sir Lewis Hamilton tried to overtake him in the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Championship protagonists collided after Verstappen was instructed by his race engineer to let Hamilton overtake him, with the seven-time F1 World Champion running into the back of the Dutchman.

Dr Marko initially insisted that Verstappen hadn’t applied the brakes on Hamilton and accused the Brit of misjudging his closing speed on the Red Bull.

“We feel we have been treated unfairly. We are working to prove Max’s braking pressure did not increase when he crashed with Hamilton,” he said.

“Hamilton simply misjudged and drove into Max’s car. Unfortunately, that left two big cuts in our rear tyre. That’s why we couldn’t attack anymore.”

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However, the Austrian has now backed down and admitted that Verstappen did indeed increase the brake pressure just before Hamilton drove into the back of him.

“At the time of the television interview, I passed on exactly the information I had previously received from the engineers,” Dr Marko said in conversation with F1 Insider.

“They obviously weren’t right, so I’m sorry,” the Austrian added.

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‘Looking ahead’ to Abu Dhabi

Verstappen and Hamilton will go into the season finale in Abu Dhabi level on points – and some F1 fans have suggested that the Red Bull driver will deliberately crash into Hamilton so neither of them finishes the grand prix, thereby securing him the 2021 crown (as he currently tops the table due to him having more victories than Hamilton.)

Looking ahead to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Dr Marko said they will not “take any unfair actions” and said they are focused on winning the last race of the season.

“Hopefully, the sad chapter of Saudi Arabia has now closed,” the Red Bull advisor said.

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in 2021 Saudi Arabian GP.v1

“In any case, we are just looking ahead. We want to win in Abu Dhabi and so win the title. We will do everything for this, but we will not take any unfair actions.

“In Saudi Arabia, we already had the pace to keep up with Hamilton. The track in Abu Dhabi should be more accommodating to us.”

‘Hollywood show’ Saudi GP

Following the action-packed and somewhat disjointed inaugural Saudi Arabian GP, 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve described the race as “rental karting.”

“It wasn’t F1, it was rental karting, everything was wrong. So I’m not sure what to say,” the outspoken ex-F1 racer said in an interview with

The Canadian also criticised the manner in which teams lobbied race director Michael Masi during the grand prix.

Villeneuve suggested that Formula 1 is becoming more of a “Hollywood show” under Liberty Media and said the teams’ lobbying of the FIA has become “ridiculous.”

“It’s hard to stay neutral, it’s hard to give a comment on what happened every time and be perceived as being neutral. You will always be perceived as taking sides and that’s when it becomes a bit too much,” he added.

“Do we want sport and good F1? Or do we just want a Hollywood show? If you want a Hollywood show, Sunday was amazing. But is that what F1 is all about?

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“And then when you see the team principals, everyone is shouting and putting pressure even on the marshals and so on. That becomes ridiculous. It really has become ridiculous.

“It was great for the fans, so that probably will increase the viewership which is great for F1. But we are starting to get away from the sport, that’s all. So ultimately, it depends if you are a purist or not,” the 1997 F1 World Champion concluded. 

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