Christian Horner labelled Helmut Marko a “communication manager’s nightmare” when he “goes rouge” and states it how he sees it.
As boss of the Red Bull Racing organisation, Horner is able to exercise authority over pretty much everyone in the team except one obvious exception – Helmut Marko.
Marko’s job title is senior advisor to the Red Bull team but at times he is often the unofficial spokesperson, not afraid to say what he believes no matter how brutal.
Helmut Marko will tell you ‘exactly what he thinks’
Horner’s and Marko’s working relationship extends back to 1996 when a need for a Formula 3000 trailer brought Horner onto Marko’s radar.
A decade after that encounter, Marko recommended Horner to run the newly established Red Bull F1 team and it is perhaps one of the wisest moves the Austrian has ever made.
Together, they have brought five Constructors’ titles and six Drivers’ championships to Red Bull and are well on their way to adding one more to both tallies.
“I’ve known him for a long time,” Horner told ESPN. “When I first met him in 1996, I needed to buy a trailer for the Formula 3000 and Formula 2 team that I had.
“Helmut, first of all, he’s a passionate racer. He was a good driver himself until his accident and he’s just very direct.
“With junior drivers, he’s picked some great ones. He’s a tough operator with the junior drivers but if they can’t survive Helmut, they’ll never survive Formula 1.
“He’s 80 years young, he’s still watching every Formula 3 session and following the young talent religiously. I’ve always had a very straightforward and good relationship with him.”
While Marko has an eye for talent, he also has an equally strong ability at making headlines, most recently suggesting Sergio Perez had “woken up” from his championship dream.
Horner believed Marko was like fellow Austrian Niki Lauda in that regard.
“He’s a communication manager’s nightmare,” Horner suggested. “When he goes rogue, then you guys [the media] only have to prod him and you’ll get a headline.
“But he just calls it as he sees it. He will tell you exactly what he thinks which in many respects is very similar to how Niki Lauda was.
“That same generation, same makeup in many ways. But there’s a great respect for Helmut and what he’s done and contributed over the years and at 80 years of age, he’s still looking for purple sectors.”