The Man that is…Dr. Helmut Marko

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Dr. Helmut Marko of Austria has had a long and successful career in the world of Formula one.  He started out as an ambitious young racing driver, but a bad accident damaged his right eye, ending his fledgling racing career.  He eventually turned his attention to driver management.  Since 1999 he has overseen the running of the Red Bull young driver program, which has brought us drivers like Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguesuari and Sebastian Vettel.  He was also responsible for getting Juan Pablo Montoya into Formula One.  These achievements are all very noteworthy, and indeed he has done a lot for Formula one recently, bringing young drivers into the sport, who otherwise might not have been able to.

Marko, however has, in recent years, been popularly hated among many for his ruthless and often seemingly heartless treatment of his drivers.  Alguseuari and Buemi were both sacked from Torro Rosso (Red Bull’s junior F1 team) after very commendable seasons in 2011.  According to Dr. Marko, neither of them were championship material, and therefore, no longer worth his time.  Dr. Marko has become famous for his ruthless treatment of young drivers and not accepting anything less than perfection every single outing on track.  While these aren’t completely ridiculous demands, one cannot expect absolute perfection week in, week out.  There are going to be slip-ups along the way and that is part of the sport.  Just ask Romain Grojean.  In Korea in 2011, Marko and Alguesuari had a major falling out, as Marko accused the young Spaniard of blocking Vettel in the first free practice session.  Had the hold-up been during qualifying for the last race of the season where Vettel was one point behind in the standings, maybe this would have been exceptable, but Vettel’s championship had already been wrapped up in the race prior, and it was the first practice session of the weekend. This harshness has led to an increase in, well, hatred for the man.  Even I, the thoughtful and caring person I am, harbor a deep dislike for the man and his way of operation.

A few days ago, Autosport ran an article covering some statements Dr. Marko made to Red Bull’s in-house Magazine, The Red Bulletin.  He talked about Red Bull and its drivers during the 2012 season and what to expect in the future.  Some of his remarks were a bit shocking for many in the world of Formula one.  Statements about mark Webber concerning his performances when under pressure; that he is unable to cope with it and make the most of being under pressure, unlike his teammate, Vettel, were deemed very insensitive and harsh, especially considering he was talking to Red Bull’s OWN magazine.  No wonder Webber would like to got to Ferrari.  I was extremely taken aback by his comments.  I rate Webber highly, and while he may not win a championship in his time remaining in Formula one, I believe he has the talent and potential to do so.

Marko isn’t a stranger to Formula one and the pressure that comes with it.  He contested 10 World Championship Grands Prix in his time.  He should know what it feels like to be under pressure to perform.  His treatment of Mark Webber certainly does not convey this, however.

In the same Autosport article mentioned above, Marko was quoted as saying that “if some technical mishap occurs, like with the alternator for example, he falls relatively easily into a downward spiral”, referring to Mark Webber again.  I was thinking the exact same thing, too.  I bet Marko was furious with Webber when he qualified third In Brazil after his alternator failure in Austin.  What a pathetic effort.

The fact that the criticism seems to never stop spewing put form this man’s mouth is why people all over social media have grown increasingly enraged with this man.  I will not forget all that he has done for Formula One, because he has brought fantastic talent into the sport, with more to come in the future.  I will not forget, however, all of the talent he has shoved out the doors of Red Bull with swift ruthlessness.

It is very unfortunate that Red Bull junior drivers have to race under the scrutiny of Dr. Helmut Marko, because as history shows, he isn’t afraid to kick them to the curb and leave nothing left for them if they don’t quite deliver. There is a certain Spanish driver who will attest to this.

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3 thoughts on “The Man that is…Dr. Helmut Marko

  1. Chris,
    I clicked through to your blog via Peter’s retweet. Congrats on a well written piece. If you aren’t following him already I recommend you check out Joe Saward’s blog http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/somewhere-over-the-rainbow/ . He has been around F1 as a working journalist for a long time and is very astute. In my experience both he a Peter are the main guys for knowledge and insight as opposed to just “news”. As for Webber and Marko as an Aussie I am naturally bias but my feeling would be that although Mark would likely by “pissed” at the public nature of the criticism he knows full well that he is driving in a team that is centred around Vettel (not unfairly given his results and exceptional ability) but that it still remains his best chance for race wins. I would have liked to see him in a McLaren alongside Button but that was never a possibility for a host of reasons including the commercial benefits that a guy like Perez brings. Important to remember also that it’s not easy for Mark to jump into a new F1 car given his height and Red Bull have worked hard to accommodate him in this area over recent years. So I look forward to another year of Mark upsetting the Vettel train and hopefully a little more luck in the second half of the season.
    Cheers,
    Keith

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