Marko explains his refusal to let Verstappen tackle the Nurburgring Norschleife

2023 F1 season

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Allowing Max Verstappen to drive a Formula 1 car on the Nurburgring Nordschleife would be too high a risk, says Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko.

Red Bull will hold its ‘Formula Nurburgring’ at the former home of the German Grand Prix in November. Daniel Ricciardo, who returned to the team as a reserve and test driver this year, will demonstrate one of their former F1 cars on the Nurburgring’s full Nordschleife layout.

Yuki Tsunoda, who drives for Red Bull’s second F1 team AlphaTauri, will also appear at the event. He will drive a Honda NSX GT3 Evo.

However Marko made it clear Verstappen was not allowed to join the event, even in an old F1 car running on demonstration tyres. He said the reigning world champion, who is on his way to a third consecutive title, could not resist the temptation to tackle the lap record around the perilously quick circuit.

“It’s basically a show run, so you don’t have the time to set up the car,” Marko told Inside Line. “The Nurburgring Nordschleife is something really special. You have bumps, you’re jumping, and and and… there is the car, which is not specially done for it.

“And I know Max. He says he doesn’t care about records [but] he knows the record by the second and if he is driving there he is not going only to beat it, he wants to beat it in a big way.”

The track record was set five years ago by Timo Bernhard. He used a modified version of Porsche’s last LMP1 car, the 919 Tribute, to cover the 20 kilometre, 172-turn course in 5’19.546.

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Marko said the team’s demonstration car “is not prepared for that”.

Timo Bernhard, Porsche 919 Tribute, Nurburgring Nordschleife, 2018
Video: Porsche claims new Nurburgring Nordschleife lap record with 919 Tribute
“It’s a high risk and that is really not necessary to take. And you can agree and he would say, ‘no, I won’t’ [but] as soon as he is in the car he would go for it.”

Sebastian Vettel, who scored all four of his world championship victories with Red Bull, will also take part in the event. Verstappen recently beat his predecessor’s record for most wins scored for the team.

Marko believes Verstappen has greater natural ability for driving than Vettel, who was infamous for spending hours in debriefs with his engineers refining his car’s performance.

“They are different characters,” said Marko. “Both are completely focused on racing and they have unbelievable talent.

“Maybe Max is more natural, Seb is going into the smallest detail. To be an engineer with him was not a nice time because if you want something he was looking at it, looking at it. There was no nothing was, I should say, by accident. Everything was clearly planned and also executed in this way.

“So the main difference is maybe Max does it more easy, it’s all natural. But also great drivers [can be like either], no doubt. And Max has now more wins than [we had] with Seb.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “Marko explains his refusal to let Verstappen tackle the Nurburgring Norschleife”

  1. Sergey Martyn
    27th June 2023, 14:06

    Marko, please drink a few of cans of your beverage and you will not only allow Max to blast the Nordschleife, but race with him.

  2. Marko’s stance is wholly understandable, given the risks involved if something goes wrong, & he’s also right that while a driver might say he wouldn’t attempt to push flat out, he’d likely still end up doing that because of a subconscious racing driver thinking taking precedence when a visor goes down.
    Marko would probably be more open to letting him participate if he wasn’t winning.
    As a side note, I thought about a caption in case the article image gets chosen for the next Caption Competition post:
    He could’ve said anything at that moment on Monaco GP qualifying day, but I thought about something along the lines of ‘No, Max, you won’t drive at Nordschleife, full stop.’

    1. If you’re not valuable to Red Bull… then you can have a go at the Nurburgring. Lesser valuable you are, the faster you car can be.

      1. @todfod Valid point

  3. I think this is complete nonsense. Max is not that stupid and risks his life in an old demo car.
    Furthermore, I think it’s virtually impossible to be faster with a stock RB7. That would require extensive changes to the chassis and weeks of preparation, special tires, suspension and aerodynamics. Max knows that, too, if he knows the record down to the second and has probably seen the video of the drive.

    1. I think this is complete nonsense. Max is not that stupid and risks his life in an old demo car.

      I think you’re wrong. “daft as a brush” is the phrase my late father would have used.

    2. Didn’t Max actually admit that he would probably want to have a go to see how fast the car could really go, admitting Marko had a point – before adding that the demonstration tyres are garbage and would not allow to go really fast anyway?

  4. It’s unfortunate how modern drivers don’t have the same opportunities to just go have fun racing or just driving other cars as drivers in the past used to.

    Nowadays your an F1 driver while in decades past you were a racing driver who happened to have got to F1 but would also drive a dozen different cars each year be it in actual races, testing or just to have fun.

    Now the fun is gone and drivers can’t show how adaptable they are or how they stack up against the best from other disciplines and thats a shame for everyone.

    1. Or ride a bike or motorcycle or ……..

    2. And then you have the story of Robert Kubica: wasted his F1 career for a spin in a rally car. That was really worth it.

      1. Oh please, that was a freak accident that is 1 in a million even in rallying. it was worth it at the time as the rally driving was giving him an edge over other f1 drivers. Raikonnen did rallying and nascar… Alonso did indy 500 and lemans full seasons and 24 hour races. Bottas has been rallying in recent years also. Many drivers in the paddock do high speed road cycling on public roads.

  5. Max probably tested it in a race simulator and knows it can be done. But if you have a hen laying golden eggs you protect it I think.

  6. But has it ever been stated that Vettel or Ricciardo would be actually allowed to attempt breaking the track record?
    I assume they will just do a show run and waste our time.

    1. same as when Michael Shumacher and Nick Heidfeld did such demo runs. i dont think the rb7 is capable of beating the porsche time anyway, going by time comparisons at spa.

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