Date: 21st January 2018 at 8:40am
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Red Bull Racing’s Helmut Marko and Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda have had an extraordinary clash of words.

The altercation actually happened before Christmas, but as it happened on Austrian broadcaster Servus TV, many readers most likely missed it.

It all revolved around Dutch sensation Max Verstappen.

Both Verstappen and Red Bull Racing team-mate Daniel Ricciardo were set to see their contracts with the team expire at the end of the upcoming season.

Naturally as both are Grand Prix winners, there was thought to be a lot of interest from both Mercedes and Ferrari for their services.

Both teams are yet to confirm their drivers beyond this season, although Sebastian Vettel had signed a long-term deal with Ferrari.

Red Bull Racing feared that they would lose Verstappen to Mercedes, with many in the media believing they had no chance of keeping hold of the youngest race winner in Formula One history especially with their current situation as a customer team to bigger manufacturers.

Jos Verstappen, former Formula One driver and Max Verstappen’s father was pictured inside the Mercedes motorhome at Monza having a meeting with Merc boss Toto Wolff.

This appeared to make Red Bull Racing a bit jumpy and they offered Verstappen a lucrative long-term deal that was announced at the United States Grand Prix.

The news shocked everyone as was seen a bit of a coo for Red Bull.

But Lauda has taunted Red Bull by claiming they made no approach for Verstappen.

?We never offered him a contract.? he was quoted by motorsport.com.

?I have a good relationship to Helmut. We usually share an airplane. But when he is getting stubborn, and thinks that something could be taken away from him, he immediately signs a contract. He went to Austin with [Verstappen?s] father and signed.?

Speaking directly to Marko he added: ?I tell you, if we had talked before, you would have saved money. We never talked to him about money.?

Marko responded: ?We introduced him to our plans for the future. We guaranteed that our most important people are committed until 2020, and that we have an alternative in terms of engine supply. This is no secret.

?All this convinced him. Of course, he used the chance to get a salary rise. It?s within reason. He is far from [the salary of] Hamilton or Vettel. When he wins championships, he can reach that level. This is no secret.?


Lauda retorted: ?When he becomes a world champion he can get the same like Hamilton? You will pay him like we do??

Marko added: ?For Formula 1 proportions, we are on a relatively low level in terms of fixed salary. But we have good bonuses.?

 

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