Marko would only leave Red Bull if he was ‘fired’

Jon Wilde
Helmut Marko looking straight ahead. Spielberg July 2022.

Helmut Marko turned 79 in April, but insists he can only see himself leaving his position at Red Bull if he is “fired”.

The Austrian serves as head of Red Bull’s driver development programme and acts as a senior advisor to the team, being a prominent and outspoken member of the Formula 1 paddock.

He was also an F1 driver himself, contesting nine grands prix across 1971 and 1972, while in the first of those years he also won the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Porsche.

A school friend of Jochen Rindt, the 1970 World Champion, Marko has been in his current role since 2005 when Red Bull entered the sport and also has a say in operations at AlphaTauri.

At the age of nearly 80, many would feel it was time to wind down and opt for a quieter life rather than travelling around the world working at Formula 1 races, but Marko does not envisage doing that any time soon.

Asked in an interview with Auto Hebdo what gives him the energy to keep going, Marko replied: “Everything is a story of passion and I am a great enthusiast. I love this sport and I love winning.

“None of my activities are stressful for me. I feel good and as long as I can continue to do this job properly and I don’t get fired, I will!”

Helmut Marko speaks to Max Verstappen. Montreal, June 2022.

Of course, it is easier to feel the motivation to continue when you are being successful, and that is very much the case for Marko and Red Bull at present.

Max Verstappen, one of the prodigies he played a major role in bringing through, became World Champion last year and is on course to retain the title, while Red Bull are 56 points ahead in the Constructors’ standings.

Asked if the 2021 triumph was Marko’s greatest moment in F1, he replied: “Yes, because we put an end to the great domination of Mercedes, which began in 2014 when new engine regulations were established.

“We have suffered a lot during all these years. Honda went to great lengths to deliver a quality engine. And then we won the title with a member of our junior team, beating a seven-time World Champion. Of course that was the greatest moment.”

Marko also concurred that Verstappen is more mature and patient as a result of his title success.

“It’s true. Personally, I call it the ‘Verstappen project’,” said Marko. “His father, Jos, initiated him when Max was four years old. He was very hard on him. It obviously worked well.

“After his title, we could feel a great relief within the whole family. By winning, they achieved what they had long wanted and validated their objective.

“Max has always had to deal with enormous pressure from Jos. He continues to put some, but a little less now. All this made him more mature. He is 24 years old and he is a young World Champion. The rest will now be just a bonus.”