Marko denies Verstappen has Red Bull veto

Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko

Red Bull’s motorsport adviser Helmut Marko has denied claims Max Verstappen has a veto over who will partner him next season.

The team is currently assessing its options following the shock departure of Daniel Ricciardo, who will join Renault on a two-year deal from next season.

It leaves the seat alongside Verstappen vacant, with a number of drivers having already been linked to it.

Among them have been Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz, both of whom are part of the Red Bull junior program.

Gasly is currently driving for Toro Rosso, while Sainz has been on loan to Renault since the United States Grand Prix last year.

With the arrival of Ricciardo at the French squad, Sainz is without a drive.

Reports however have suggested the Spaniard’s return to the Red Bull fold would be blocked by Verstappen, who would exercise a veto over him joining the drinks company’s senior team.

“The rumors that point to the veto of Verstappen to Sainz are shit,” Marko told Diario Sport.

“Red Bull is the one who decides about its two drivers.”

A hard-nosed and controversial figure in the F1 paddock, Marko also revealed that he only learned of Ricciardo’s decision to leave the team the day before it was publicly announced.

“Daniel called me on Thursday to inform me of the decision to leave the team at the end of the season,” he admitted.

“He spent most of his career at Red Bull and told me he wanted a change, that’s right.

“Now we will have to think about who will be Max Verstappen’s team-mate.”

At this stage Gasly appears the early front runner for the drive, though that move would simply transfer the driver dilemma to Toro Rosso, where there is an even shorter list of likely candidates.

The most senior of Red Bull’s juniors is currently Dan Ticktum, who is racing in the Formula 3 European Championship, but he won’t be eligible for the required Superlicense next season.

At the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test, Red Bull used Jake Dennis while Toro Rosso has previously admitted it would like a Japanese driver to satisfy engine supplier Honda.

Forrent Formula 2 racer Nirei Fukuzumi is a Red Bull athlete, though he needs to finish inside the top four in this season’s championship in order to have sufficient points to progress to F1.

That seems unlikely, with the 21-year-old currently 19th in the championship with 11 points.

Sainz meanwhile has been linked with a move to McLaren, which is yet to confirm either of its drivers heading into next season.

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