Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko once enjoyed a promising career as a Formula 1 driver although the Austrian manager rarely talks about his past life.
A close friend of the great Jochen Rindt during his teenage years, Marko followed into the footsteps of the 1970 world champion, making his Grand Prix debut in his home race in Austria in 1971 with the works BRM team.
Unfortunately, his ambitions were cut short the following year at the French Grand Prix at Clermont -errand when a stone thrown up by another car pierced his visor and struck him in the eye, ending his career.
As Red Bull’s motorsport manager and talent spotter, Marko admits that he rarely refers to his own racing career when talking to young drivers.
“The times are so different now that stories of the cars I drove in the old days would be a waste of time,” the Austrian told Formula1.com.
“What I talk with them about is that you have to be competitive, be completely focused and so on. That is what I am trying to pass on to them.”
Marko does remember a time however when Daniel Ricciardo called him up to complain about the difficulties of driving Marko’s former Alfa Romeo sportscar which the Aussie had just sampled.
“He was driving my Alfa Romeo in a Targa Florio show run, and he complained that the clutch was so heavy, and that the brakes were so difficult!
“Probably he got a glimpse of how hard it was in the old days.
“I told him: ‘You get paid one hundred times more than we did – or let’s say ten times – you have much less work, much safer cars – so enjoy and be grateful!’.”
Looking back on his 50 years in motor racing, Helmut Marko pinpoints a few memorable moments, two of which involve other drivers.
“I would probably have to pick three: winning Le Mans – that was a big moment.
“Winning the first championship with Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull.
“And, believe it or not, last year in Barcelona when Max (Verstappen) won the race. I was called mad for putting him in the car, even within the team – and then he goes out and wins!”
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