Helmut Marko clashes with ex-Formula 1 driver in debate over son’s career trajectory

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko. Canada June 2023.

Helmut Marko walks through the paddock.

Helmut Marko says he cannot see any young Austrian racer heading for Formula 1 success anytime soon, and Alexander Wurz name-dropping his son Charlie did little to impress the Red Bull advisor.

Austria currently has a strong and very successful presence in the world of Formula 1, even if that is not coming from a driver hailing from the nation.

Austria’s Red Bull Racing team is the dominant force of Formula 1, winning all nine grands prix so far in F1 2023, meaning their stacked trophy cabinet, which already features five Constructors’ titles and six Drivers’ Championships, is set to get busier still.

Helmut Marko disputes Alexander Wurz’s claim on Charlie’s career

The links between Austria and Formula 1 can also be felt through Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who oversaw the team’s record-breaking run of eight Constructors’ and seven Drivers’ titles between 2014-21, while the Red Bull Ring, host of the Austrian Grand Prix, recently signed fresh terms to continue hosting the event through until 2030.

Not since 2010 though has there been an Austrian driver on the grid, that the year Christian Klien made his final F1 start, and Marko would clash with Wurz, who raced in Formula 1 in spells between 1997-2007, when he claimed his son Charlie is showing promising speed in the junior ranks.

The 17-year-old boasts the Formula 4 UAE Championship and Formula Regional Oceania Championship amongst his list of accolades so far in single-seater racing.

After Marko, head of Red Bull’s young driver programme had claimed he doesn’t “see any Austrian who could be successful in Formula 1 in the near future”, ORF commentator Wurz said of his son Charlie: “I think he has what it takes to be a professional racing driver. He has already shown the speed.”

It is safe to say that Marko does not agree with that statement.

“The results he is currently achieving are not in the direction of Formula 1,” came the typically stern response from Marko.

“If the doctor wants to see it that way, that’s always his business,” Wurz retaliated to bring that rather awkward exchange to a close.

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Is Charlie Wurz on the path to Formula 1?

As it stands, to Marko’s point, the young Austrian is going to need to step up his game in the junior categories soon to trigger a successful rise up the ranks.

While he does have those F4 UAE and Formula Regional Oceania titles to his name, Wurz is currently struggling to build on that in the Formula Regional European Championship.

Wurz is now six races into his campaign in that category with ART Grand Prix, but has so far scored only one point for a P10 finish. Only in two other races has he finished inside the top 20.

At 17, he is of course still in the early stages of his junior racing career, but currently without that vital affiliation to a Formula 1 team via an academy place, Wurz it seems will need to unlock a good chunk of extra performance to put himself firmly on the road to Formula 1.

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