Formula 1 | Marko still assumes his idea of ’Covid camp’
At the start of the Covid pandemic, Helmut Marko suggested the idea of »Covid camps » so that Red Bull and AlphaTauri drivers would catch the virus early – so that they were immune.
This episode did nothing of course to improve the reputation of the Doctor – known to be quite cold, demanding and ruthless, but also direct and honest.
Does Helmut Marko regret somewhere this reputation of hard frankness? Some pilots confided that they were terrified when they saw the name Marko displayed on their smartphone…
» Nope. In motor racing, there is always an excuse not to win – the engine, the tyres, the chassis, etc. Unfortunately, many drivers are supported by parents who spend a lot of money, sometimes more money than they have, just to fulfill the dream of raising a son to be a famous racing driver. It’s my job to tell them when they need to go another direction and stop wasting their money. »
“We make championships possible. Of course, there is a lot of pressure. But if you can’t handle the pressure, motor racing isn’t the right job for you. »
And what can Marko say in particular about the Covid camp controversy? Does he regret it?
“It was serious. Doctors thought once you had it, it was over. We didn’t know at the time that we could have it a second and a third time. And we have young and strong people. It’s like the flu. Imagine if Verstappen had it last year at the wrong time. The championship would have been lost if he had to miss a race or two. »
Helmut Marko bases his legitimacy on a long experience of motorsport: he notably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in 1972, the legendary race of the Targa Florio. Marko therefore experienced the particularly dangerous time of motorsport. Does he find today that F1 has sacrificed too much spectacle in the name of safety?
“In 1972, at the Targa Florio, I drove quite fast, dangerously fast. But it’s the human impulse: if you see a chance to win, there’s so much adrenaline. Fans were certainly drawn to this danger. I am happy that those days are over when two or three pilots a year were killed and five others seriously injured, like me, who lost an eye and could not continue to practice this sport. »
A fun anecdote about Newey
In his autobiography, Adrian Newey also told an amusing anecdote about the personality of the Doctor.
The first time Marko had met Newey, he had said to him: “I am Dr. Helmut Marko. I work for Red Bull. You will call me. »
Marko comes back to this episode…
« He looked at me a bit strangely. Look, when Red Bull decided to get into F1, people thought we were just a fun company that had bigger parties than the others. My approach was to be as competitive as possible. I’m direct about what we expect, and in the end, it worked. »
How to be a teammate of Max Verstappen?
Marko therefore does not support pilots who do not manage the pressure well. However, when you are a Red Bull driver, facing Max Verstappen, isn’t it inevitable to suffer a form of pressure linked to the impossibility of obtaining good results against such a teammate?
“Having Max as a teammate is not a pleasant part of your career. Max is so special. He was trained very hard by his father, but very successfully. For example, when he was under 10, they were in Italy, and as soon as it started to rain, all the other pilots would go to the cafeteria for coffee or cake. Max had to stay outside, sometimes with frozen fingers. That’s why he’s so good in the rain. He can adapt immediately. »
« They compare their cars with his: ‘Do I have the same equipment?’ They think, « How can I beat him? » They can’t, so they try to change the settings of the car or adapt their driving style. Of course, you can’t accept that you’re just not as good as him. At some point, you have to recognize, well, there’s someone special and you just can’t beat them. It’s my job to make them understand that. Is it cruel? I do not think so. »