Axed Red Bull junior opens up on Helmut Marko’s ‘unfair’, brutal approach

Michelle Foster
Helmut Marko, Red Bull, stern faced. Spain, February 2022.

Helmut Marko is the man in charge of Red Bull's junior programme.

Dropped from Red Bull’s junior programme, Jak Crawford has revealed Helmut Marko’s “brutally honest” to the point of “unfair” phone calls after a bad race weekend.

18-year-old Crawford was dropped by Red Bull after last year’s Formula 2 championship when his opening campaign with Hitech Pulse-Eight resulted in a P13 in the Drivers’ standings.

Although he secured six podium finishes including a Sprint win at Red Bull’s home track in Spielberg, the team made the call to part ways with the American.

F2 driver reveals ‘brutally honest’ but ‘unfair’ conversations

That decision brought an end to his post-race weekend conversations with Red Bull motorsport advisor Marko as Crawford revealed the Austrian, who is in charge of Red Bull’s junior programme, could be “brutally honest”, but borderline “unfair”.

“I think the hardest things are obviously the pressure and expectation that is set on you,” he told Racer of his dealings with Marko.

“He puts a lot of faith in his drivers, but he also expects a lot. And sometimes, if you’re not directly in the F2 paddock, knowing what’s going on, it can be difficult to tell with regards to team performance or driver performance and stuff like that.

“So sometimes that can play a factor in how he sees things. But definitely the biggest thing is, the last thing you want is to have a bad weekend and receive a phone call from Helmut to say to come meet him.

“He’s very busy, so you end up waiting on him. And then you sit there and he just walks up, and then he says, ‘So…’ in a very deep voice! Then he asks ‘What happened?’ And his conversations are very short, very straight to the point.

“Sometimes he’s brutally honest. That’s the right way to say it. Sometimes it can be too brutally honest, where it can be unfair at times, if you want to say, but it’s not so bad. To me it was very, very short, and very to the point.”

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18 and axed is a ‘weird’ one for Crawford

Despite losing Red Bull’s backing, Crawford will continue racing in Formula 2 this season having signed with DAMS.

“It’s quite a weird feeling – I feel like I’ve been doing this a long time, but then you look at my age, compared to most of the guys, I’m probably one of the youngest still in F2,” he said.

“So it’s very weird to look at, because I feel like I’ve had a long career in single-seaters so far. And you look at some of the guys there in their lower 20s, and they have a lot more experience than me in single-seaters.

“I feel like I’m in a good position. It’s a bit weird saying I’ve been in Red Bull for four years, and I’ve been dropped and I’m only 18. It is a bit weird to say that, but I do think it’s a good opportunity for myself, relieved of pressure.”

Crawford has reportedly already been snapped up by Aston Martin, although the American would not confirm this other than to say: “I think it’s definitely possible to fight for the [F2] championship this year. That is my goal.

“And it’s also one that the F1 team has set out for me. It’s not like I’m under a lot of pressure from them to do that, it’s obviously just a goal, but it’s a goal for myself as well. So we’re on the same page.”

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