‘Marko must hire from within or programme will shut down’

Date published: October 1 2020

Helmut Marko convinced he caught the coronavirus in "mid-February".

Dutch journalist Jack Plooij has claimed that, if Helmut Marko hires a driver outside of Red Bull’s academy, it will be shut down.

The team hasn’t hired someone not in the Young Driver Programme since 2007 when Mark Webber was signed.

This has generally been a successful strategy, with Sebastian Vettel winning four World Championships and Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen winning multiple races for the team.

However, this year there have been more rumours than ever that Marko and co are set to veer away from their philosophy.

This is because Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon have both struggled to compete with Max Verstappen, and Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg are both available for 2021.

Marko himself has denied that this will happen, claiming that he’s happy with the young drivers in Red Bull’s ranks.

“So far, we have stuck to our principle. For example, we didn’t take [Fernando] Alonso when it would have been possible,” he said.

“Instead, we have always promoted our juniors and gone our own way. And [Sebastian] Vettel, Verstappen and [Daniel] Ricciardo won Grand Prix races. So it is a successful path. With Verstappen, we have a truly exceptional talent.

“It has been written that there are no more new juniors, but we have Yuki Tsunoda, who is doing great in his first year in Formula 2. He had two technical failures. Without them, he would have as many points as [Robert] Schwartzman.

“Why should we suddenly go away from our philosophy just because somewhere a good man doesn’t have a cockpit?”

Yuki Tsunoda

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Ziggo Sport’s Plooij thinks that the Austrian refuses to do so because, if he did, his programme would be shut down.

”There’s a lot more going on these days and it’s no longer about being the fastest driver at all’,” he said on the F1 aan Tafel podcast.

”Helmut Marko sticks to his own talents for as long as possible. Of course, he would love to put a driver like Nico Hulkenberg next to Verstappen, but then Dietrich Mateschitz closes Red Bull’s training programme.”

Tsunoda is excelling in F2 and is set to be the next of the batch to make it to F1. With Gasly and Albon both struggling at Red Bull, Plooij thinks that the team should give the Japanese driver a chance there immediately.

“Maybe he should take Tsunoda to Red Bull, do something crazy,” he added.

“These are considerations that Marko has to make, but I would like to see a strong driver next to Verstappen.”

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