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Max Verstappen's mentor Helmut Marko staying with Red Bull

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen's mentor Helmut Marko said Saturday he is staying with Red Bull, after Verstappen indicated their futures at the team were linked amid the fallout from Red Bull's investigation into team principal Christian Horner.

“I am continuing, yes,” Marko told German broadcaster Sky Sport. Marko said a conversation with Oliver Mintzlaff, the Red Bull CEO who oversees the drinks company's sports operations, had gone well.

“It was a very good conversation and obviously calm needs to return to the team, and that has priority today. We agreed on all points," the 80-year-old Austrian said.

Marko had previously told Austrian broadcaster ORF on Friday that “theoretically the possibility always exists” that he might not be with Red Bull after this weekend's event in Saudi Arabia. Later that day, Verstappen gave Marko his strong support and indicated he might re-examine his future with Red Bull if Marko were to leave.

Last week, the team’s parent company dismissed a complaint of alleged misconduct by Red Bull team principal Horner toward a team employee.

A day after the Horner complaint was dismissed, a file alleged to contain evidence against Horner was emailed to nearly 200 people in the F1 paddock, including Liberty Media, F1, the FIA, the other nine team principals and multiple media outlets. The source of that leak has not been disclosed.

Marko said Saturday that any suggestion he might have been involved in such a leak would be “complete nonsense."

Marko has long had a role overseeing the two F1 teams owned by Red Bull on behalf of the parent company, with a particular focus on developing up-and-coming drivers such as Verstappen, who made his F1 debut at the age of 17 in 2015.

A former F1 driver in the early 1970s, Marko was a close adviser to Red Bull co-founder and fellow Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz, who set up the Red Bull team in F1 and who died in 2022.

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing