Helmut Marko has warned that Max Verstappen is a ticking 'time bomb' and could explode if Red Bull don't win again soon, following a woeful start to the season.
The defending F1 champion has endured two retirements in the opening three rounds of the season, falling either side of his victory in Saudi Arabia. That has left the 24-year-old with a mountain to climb and he currently has a 46-point deficit in the standings to Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.
That has seen Verstappen already express his frustrations in interviews and over the team radio during races, with concerns that he could hit boiling point if his troubles continue. However, Marko does believe he is managing the disappointments maturely.
"He is a lot calmer. After his retirement [in Australia], he returned to the pit box and we discussed things calmly," he told Austrian broadcaster ORF.
"However, in this case, we knew we could run into that problem, because we also had to deal with that in qualifying, so it didn't come out of the blue in that regard.
"He is an emotional and passionate driver who will always give his opinion. But, in my view, he is a lot calmer – calmer than in the past."
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Verstappen's hot-headedness flared up on multiple times last season during his thrilling title battle with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, with the pair colliding at Silverstone, Monza and in Saudi Arabia. It summed up a turbulent season between the two drivers as they fought to win the driver's championship while the tension was also evident within their respective teams.
So far this season, Verstappen has managed to keep his nerve but Red Bull adviser Marko has warned that may not continue to be the case if he drops further behind in the battle for the title. "If we don't win again soon, then he is indeed a time bomb!" he said.
The Formula One season continues this weekend with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, which also sees the first Sprint Race of the 2022 season. Red Bull will hope that their reliability issues won't play a part once again on another grand prix weekend.
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