It took Sergio Pérez a couple of races at Red Bull to meet Helmut Marko. The team advisor was the most critical of the Mexican driver’s performance in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, when after starting second he was the victim of a 10-second penalty for passing with a safety car and then made a mistake that left him in the position 11 until the end of the event.
The manager stated that “it was basically a very bad day with a bad performance” and said that the fact that the man from Guadalajara was left out of the points “was annoying.” It was just a taste of the personality of Marko, who is not afraid to express his opinion about the group’s conductors.
Formally, the Austrian is the advisor to the Red Bull teams in Formula One and the manager of the company’s driver development program, although he is rather the ideologue of the automotive part of the energy drink company and the hand right of Christian Horner, director of the squad in which Checo plays; a role similar to that of Niki Lauda in Mercedes alongside Toto Wolff.
Born in Graz, Austria on April 27, 1943, Marko became a doctor of law in 1967, which is why in the paddock he has the nickname The Doctor. He grew up alongside his compatriot Jochen Rindt (top-flight champion in 1970) and had a brief career behind the wheel at the highest level, with a victory in the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1971 in a Porsche alongside the Dutchman Gijs van Lennep. .
In F1 they offered him a seat on the day of his friend’s funeral and he participated in 10 Grand Prix in which he did not get points, his best performance was an eighth place in Monaco 1972; A few weeks later, in competition in France, a stone driven by Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi’s Lotus pierced Helmut’s helmet visor, leaving him blind in his left eye and ending his career.
A few years later he played a fundamental role in the trajectory of another compatriot, Gerhard Berger, when he became his representative and took him first to European Formula 3 and then to F1, he also promoted Karl Wendlinger, who was F3 champion German in Helmut’s team, RSM Marko in 1989.
As owner, the Doctor repeated success in the same category in 1994 with the German Jörg Müller and two years later also with the German in Formula 3000, then he had Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya in his ranks, but true to his style, he questioned whether his physical form was adequate to compete. In 1999 Marko started his way back to the Great Circus because he convinced the owner of the Red Bull company, Dietrich Mateschitz to get involved in the development of pilots, so the squad took the name of energy drinks from that moment until his departure in 2003.
The program of the Austrian company to promote young values officially began in 2001, under the supervision of Marko, who from that position began to cement his power within the team, both at training levels and at the highest level, the F1.
The project consists of locating drivers from anywhere in the world and serving as a sponsor to place them in the best cars of the development series, until they can make the leap to one of the two teams of the company, which has happened since birth. from Red Bull in 2005 and from Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) in 2006.
The success stories begin with the German Sebastian Vettel, trained in the Red Bull Junior Team and four times F1 champion with the Austrian team, and reach the Japanese Yuki Tsunoda, newcomer to AlphaTauri, but the Dutchman has also passed through the structure Max Verstappen, the Spanish Carlos Sainz, the Australian Daniel Ricciardo, the Russian Daniil Kvyat and the French Pierre Gasly, among others.
At the same time that Red Bull and Toro Rosso appeared in F1, Marko became an advisor to both teams and practically in the eyes of Mateschitz in the paddock, as well as retaining his duties in the development program. The Doctor always cites as his greatest achievements the triumph at LeMans, Vettel’s first title and Verstappen’s victory in Barcelona in his debut with Red Bull, after being promoted from Toro Rosso, “they told me I was crazy to put him on that car, even internally, and comes out and wins, “he recalled.
That moment defines the personality of Marko, who in addition to his ability to detect young talent and not hesitate to promote it (always with the support of the owner), also has another side, that of being critical of those who believe that they fall short in the results they could offer.
That happened with Kvyat in 2016, when he was at Red Bull and in the Russian race he had a strong clash with Vettel (then at Ferrari) and Helmut and Horner did not hesitate to replace him with Verstappen for the next date, Barcelona, despite that Daniil had been seventh in the championship in 2015 (three points more than his teammate Ricciardo) and third in China just a month earlier.
Marko acknowledged that he was the one who tipped off the Russian about his relegation to Toro Rosso and from there built a reputation for toughness that was confirmed by Verstappen’s next teammate, Gasly, another Junior Team product,
The Frenchman was promoted to Red Bull for 2019, after only 26 starts in F1, but he did not have the best performance, “it is not easy to be Max’s teammate because he is a pilot with exceptional talent, but Gasly’s results and speed are unacceptable, in Canada (8th) and France (10th) it was worse than we thought, the difference between Pierre and Max is very big ”, criticized the team advisor.
After 12 races, Verstappen had 181 of his team’s 244 points and Pierre had failed to get on the podium so he was replaced by Alex Albon from Thailand, who rose from Toro Rosso, while Gasly took the reverse route. The Frenchman had his revenge with a second place on the penultimate date of the calendar.
Albon, another product of the Junior Team, closed that campaign and received the opportunity for 2020, when he finished in seventh place, with 105 units, 109 less than Max, so his position was in doubt and it was Marko who expressed it. “The problem was its lack of consistency and that it was easily disturbed, for example, when the wind increased or came from another direction or when the tires began to wear; the distance with Verstappen grew during the season, it did not diminish ”, sentenced.
Therefore, despite the fact that Red Bull is known for promoting young drivers for his team and Marko is in charge, he had to turn to Sergio Pérez to find a competitive partner for the Dutchman and who is capable of adding the points to fight for the title. with Mercedes; however, if Checo does not comply, Helmut will be there to remind him, as in Italy.
However, Ricciardo said on Motorsport-Total.com that the Mexican meets a calmer Marko: “He has softened in recent years, maybe it is maturity, but he has also become more friendly, with him you have transparency and 100 percent honesty, if you didn’t do it right, he tells you, just to get the best of you. “
Daniel even recommended that Checo give Helmut a hug because all those who have passed through the Junior Team, Toro Rosso / AlphaTauri or Red Bull know that the manager is the mind of the brand at the car level and that what he says it weighs so much as to cause changes in the lineup from one Grand Prix to the next.