Is it time for Helmut Marko to depart Red Bull?

Written by María Fernanda Peña, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Since his early involvement in Red Bull motorsport, Dr. Helmut Marko has proven to be an essential player in the formula for success of the team. However, now that so many years have passed since the beginning of his partnership with the Austrian energy-drink brand in 1999, the question of whether he is as vital as he once was is inevitable. He has discovered some of the greatest modern talents in motorsport, most notably the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. However, although he has introduced many great drivers to the pinnacle of motorsport, he has also destroyed many careers and his offensive nature has damaged the overall team´s image in recent years.


The alliance of Red Bull and Marko began back in 1999, when he changed the name of his Formula 3 team, previously named RSM Marko, to Red Bull Junior Team. From then, he became responsible for finding the newest karting talents and signing them under the Red Bull driver academy. In 2005, six years later after the beginning of their partnership, Red Bull finally entered F1. In that year, Marko changed his role of team owner to team advisor, a role which he keeps even today. Since then, he has become one of the most essential and powerful people within the team, even being the one to choose Christian Horner to lead Red Bull Racing. His great talent-seeking eye has been a key part of why the team has been so successful in so little time. His ability to identify diamonds in the rough and then train them to reach their maximum potential, both in drivers and other team roles, has made Red Bull what it is today.


There can be no denying that because of Helmut Marko´s involvement in the team, it has become so successful in the last 12 years. Since the very beginning he has been able to identify very good young drivers and sign them under the Red Bull Academy before other driver academies could do so. Additionally, he has guided the team to success, and has become a house-hold name in the sport in a very short period of time. Given his immense expertise in the sport, he was able to pick out great engineers, directors and strategists to conform Red Bull and grow in the whole company an environment of hard work but most importantly: fast results. Although this worked out pretty well in the beginning, this has also been a great part of why they've had so much trouble.


In the last few years it has become very evident that although Dr. Marko has been really helpful, he has also been the reason for the damage of Red Bull´s image and their trouble finding a second-seat driver. His outspoken and rather offensive nature has been one of the biggest negative attention grabbers, especially last season. He often talks mockingly to the press about other drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, and even about his drivers, which makes the environment in the team much more hostile. In the end, when you have a team advisor or boss laughing at you through the press, things cannot come out right. Additionally, as he is so keen on having good results sooner, and thus has pressured too many drivers like Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon, who were still very young, to have good results almost instantly, although they were new in F1. And worse than that, he has pushed for an environment of comparison within the two drivers of the team which makes the “second driver” avoid reaching their full potential. Since he is always comparing the new drivers to the main drivers (who usually have preference and favoritism), the second drivers wear away from all this attitude and stop delivering. He has promised too many drivers great careers and support from Red Bull, but in the end he has not had enough patience to help them cultivate their talents.


Helmut Marko, as mentioned before, has been very important in Red Bull and a great part of why the team has been so successful. However, all the good he has done has already been implanted in the team and other people such as Christian Horner can keep growing them. But right now, the negatives overshadow the good efforts he has put in, so maybe it's time for him to depart Red Bull. It´ll keep him from looking like a villain and instead people can see all the great things he did. Therefore Red Bull can enter into a new era with all the great things Mr. Marko implanted, but also new things that they´ve learned from his errors.