As 2020 draws to a close it has been another ‘interesting’ year reading Dr Helmut Marko’s quotes so let’s take a look at the highlights.
On Red Bull prospects for the 2020 season:
Marko came out all guns blazing telling Motorsport-Total.com, “We want to fight for the World Championship, and we know that we have to be competitive with the chassis right from the start, so from the very first race.
“Honda has made gains for next year and, after everything that has been achieved so far, we assume that this [fighting from the start of the season] will happen. That means we have no excuses.”
It all started earlier in the year when he famously suggested a ‘coronavirus camp’ to infect the Red Bull and Alpha Tauri drivers telling Austrian television station ORF, “We have four Formula 1 drivers and eight or 10 juniors.”
“The idea was that we organize a camp to mentally and physically bridge the dead time and that would be the ideal time for the infection to come.
“These are all strong young men in really good health. That way they would be prepared whenever the action starts. And you can be ready for what will probably be a very tough championship once it starts.”
Asked how his vision was taken by Red Bull officials, he added: “Let’s put it this way, it has not been well received.”
With his usual bluntness, he effectively dismissed Daniil Kvayt when asked if Kvavt had done enough with a strong performance in Imola he told Sky Germany, “No (laughs), it was a good performance but it will not help him in the future or to position himself in the future.”
It wasn’t much better for poor old Pierre Gasly after his win at Monza which led the Frenchman to hope for a return to Red Bull only to hear Marko tell Sky Germany,
“That is currently not a consideration. “Gasly is one of our Red Bull drivers, he is currently with Alpha Tauri and is doing a great job there. But we also need a team leader there.”
Marko had been uncharacteristically supportive of Alexander Albon commenting, “Everyone falls away against Max. But the criticism of Albon is not entirely fair. He’s been very unlucky this year and we made strategic mistakes that affected his performance.
“If Alex Albon performs well then he stays. If not, there will be deliberation. We would then see which drivers that are good are on the market. But that’s not an issue at the moment.”
Fast forward to November when he told f1-insider.com,” Sergio Perez’s victory in Bahrain has no influence on our decisions,” and of course Red Bull subsequently signed Perez.
George Russell’s chances of a Red Bull seat ended when the good doctor proclaimed, “Firstly, he is a Mercedes driver, and secondly he is managed by Toto Wolff.”
Then we have the golden child Verstappen who did not escape the cold judgment on his title chances after back-to-back retirements left him 80 points adrift leading Marko to announce in Sept,
“It means: world title, goodbye! You have to be realistic.”
Then Marko had his little spat with Lewis Hamilton after he accused Hamilton of lobbying Horner to replace Gasly with Albon during the 2019 season.
“We don’t care. The one he wanted to get rid of last summer has now won the Italian Grand Prix with our AlphaTauri team. So much for his expertise.
“I have no idea why Hamilton always feels the need to interfere. But it doesn’t matter to us what opinion people from the outside have.”
In what must be one of the biggest put-downs in F1 history Marko when discussing the matter with Speedweed said of Christian Horner at the announcement of Honda’s withdrawal from F1, “We work in all directions because we knew about Honda’s decision for a long time.
“Mr. Horner is a team principal, but not involved in strategic matters. Mr. Mateschitz and I have known for a long time.”
Ouch that must have stung.
Then he has been accused of blackmailing the teams into agreeing to an engine freeze so Red Bull can take over the Honda programme simply telling Auto Bild, “The deciding factor is whether the engines will be frozen in their development from 2022.
“Otherwise we don’t have the capacity to operate these very complicated engines. This is not blackmailing, this is a fact.”
To be fair to Marko he came out with credit after Lewis Hamilton basically accused him of racism after reading a quote attributed to Marko which it turned out was incorrect.
Marko said that as far as he was concerned, the matter was dealt with, “in good faith” and his sympathies lay with Hamilton telling Motorsport.com, “He is emotionally very involved.
“As a racing driver, he is not obliged to do research whether this is true or not. In that respect, his reaction is understandable to me.”
So, there we have it, another eventful year in the life of Dr Marko.
Is he going to be around next year well, he told Germany’s Motorsport-Total.com, “I have a deal with [Red Bull founder] Dietrich Mateschitz: as long as I can do it mentally and physically, I will.”