Max Verstappen responds to Helmut Marko’s threat

Red Bull ace Max Verstappen is searching for his third victory at the Spanish GP this weekend.

Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen revealed ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix that Red Bull weren’t planning anything “crazy”, despite comments from advisor Dr Helmut Marko having suggested otherwise.

Marko told Austrian TV channel OE24 that Red Bull would “try something new” at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, perhaps concerning the Milton Keynes-based team’s rivals.

Verstappen though, admitted that he was unsure what the 80-year-old was going on about, with the Dutchman having pondered whether Marko “got a bit excited”.

“I think Helmut got a bit excited! I don’t know, we’ll just be doing our normal program and nothing crazy,” Verstappen told reporters.

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Verstappen was imperious on the opening day in Barcelona and topped both sessions on Friday, with his advantage in Free Practice 1 having been concerning.

The two-time World Champion led FP1 by seven-tenths, whilst he only topped Free Practice 2 by a tenth of a second, from Fernando Alonso.

Red Bull’s RB19 unsurprisingly seems to suit the Spanish venue, which boasts several medium and high-speed corners.

Verstappen admitted ahead of the weekend that his car “should” work very well in Barcelona, something which is so far proving to be true.

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“It should do,” Verstappen said ahead of the weekend.

“But of course need to find a good balance. I think when we have a good balance in the car, then we can have a good weekend.”

He heads into qualifying as the clear favourite for pole position; however, the weather could come into play.

Free Practice 3 was impacted by rain, with qualifying also potentially set to feature wet weather.

Regardless of the conditions, Verstappen will be searching for a third consecutive pole position on Saturday and a 40th career win on Sunday.

The Dutchman has, of course, won in Barcelona before, back in 2016 and in 2022.

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Verstappen famously won in Spain on his debut for Red Bull back in 2016, after being promoted from Toro Rosso to replace Daniil Kvyat.

Victory this weekend would see Verstappen extend his lead over Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ Championship to over 40 points, following his win in Monaco.

Another win on Sunday would perhaps see him start to cruise away to a third consecutive title, something he’s heavily expected to achieve.