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Marko sends a clear warning to his drivers


Over the years Helmut Marko has earned a fearsome reputation. In terms of motorsport, he is Dietrich Mateschitz' right-hand man.

The Austrian, who had 9 GP starts in the early 70s, and also enjoyed Sports Car success, winning the 1971 Le Mans 24-hours, had his racing career brought to an early end in a freak accident during the 1972 French Grand Prix, when a stone thrown up by Emerson Fittipaldi's Lotus, pierced the visor on Marko's helmet leaving him permanently blinded in his left eye.

Already a doctor of law, Marko eventually went into driver management, looking after the interests of countrymen Gerhard Berger and Karl Wendlinger, before establishing his own F3 and F3000 teams. In 1999, his team now running as the Red Bull Junior Team, Marko helped establish the Red Bull Driver Programme which was to develop talents such as Sebastian Vettel.

Though never assuming, or seemingly wanting, a team management role, he is seen by many as the driving force behind Red Bull's (F1) racing empire, reporting directly to the man who bankrolls the entire operation, seemingly relishing his reputation as hatchet-man.

Over the years, be it Red Bull or Toro Rosso, we have seen drivers come and go, dropped without warning, should Marko not feel they are pulling their weight, and whilst both Red Bull teams have retained their 2015 line-ups, the Austrian has sent out a clear warning, perform or you're out.

With an eye on Max Verstappen, who is known to be on several teams shopping lists should he continue to perform as he did in his rookie year, Marko was asked if 2016 will be a 'shoot-out' between the Dutch youngster, Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat.

"We basically have long-term contracts at the Red Bull junior program," he told the official F1 website, "and the whole program is based on performance. So no shoot-out, but be very clear: the one who is not delivering goes."

Asked if Verstappen is likely to be at Red Bull in 2016, he responds: "Let's see what he delivers. The second season is sometimes trickier than the first!"

Of course, 2015 wasn't really about drivers, much of the year given over to the sorry saga of Red Bull's search for a new engine partner and the subsequent threats to leave the sport.

Asked if it was he who persuaded Mateschitz not to pull the plug, he replies: "In the short term we got engines, a Ferrari and a TAG Heuer. There was also the expectation of an independent engine being introduced, which we put a lot of hope in because it would solve all our problems. Unfortunately this independent engine now won't happen, so in the medium term it is still not clear what will happen to us in the future.

"Mr Mateschitz has said many times that we are not in Formula One just to participate, we are here to win!" he continues. "The Olympic principle of just being there is not in Red Bull's DNA - understandable if you spend more or less the same amount of money to win or not win. None of the meetings on the engine situation has brought any reasonable result for us so far. There is no cost reduction yet, no equalization in engines, and no clear regulations on how an independent team like us can get competitive engines.

"Red Bull Racing is a champion team - and by not getting a competitive engine we are massively hindered. And that boils down to a distorted competition, which is very unhealthy situation. That whole thing is done on purpose - at least that is my impression. Of course I can understand the position of Mercedes or Ferrari, but the governing body, the FIA, should react."

Asked about the infamous Mercedes deal, he replies: "There was a handshake, but there never was an engine. There you have it."

And the Tag-Heuer badged Renault in the back of the RB12?

"So far it's a good cooperation," he responds. "During the tests we've done almost more mileage than we did in the previous two winter tests. It seems that with the engine development things are going in the right direction. But, to bridge the gap to the leading engines, that will take some time."

He reveals that the deal with Renault is straightforward, Red Bull receives the engines but is unable to modify them in any way.

"We get an engine and we put that in the car. Period. You are not allowed to touch it. We can't touch it and also we can't influence anything on the software and mapping side. We have to take what we get.

"I have to say that Renault have been fair in the past," he adds, "and I expect that to go on. Renault is a team that has been ‘shaken up' with new people, new leadership and new drivers, so my guess is that it will take them at least two years before they can reach a similar level to Red Bull Racing - so we are their best bet right now! It simply wouldn't be smart for us not to get equal equipment."

And at Toro Rosso, Verstappen and Sainz have Ferrari power, albeit 2015 Ferrari power.

"They are happy to have this engine rather than none at all," he replies. "And I could imagine that they will land in front of Red Bull at the start of the season - probably until midseason - because the power difference is still that significant. In midseason probably the performance will drop, as you cannot further develop the 2015 engine.

"As long as you don't have a competitive engine you are not competitive," he adds. "It's an engine driven championship right now. With our car we very likely will compete against Force India or Williams - both with Mercedes engines - but Ferrari and Mercedes are way ahead.

"We will try to fight Williams," he continues. "I think that at the end of the season we should be third. But, of course, in the long run that is not good enough."

Asked how he sees the season panning out, he replies: "We have seen that the chassis straight out of the box is good. We've enjoyed quite some mileage, so we could try things that we've not been able to do in the past tests. However, we will need extraordinary circumstances - like light rain - to have a chance of winning.

"From midseason onwards our power unit situation should improve - and that makes me believe that P3 should be feasible. For the first half of the season I see Mercedes doing one-two finishes as long as they do not screw-up, then I see Ferrari and a tight fight between Williams, Force India, Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing behind them."


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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 14/03/2016 17:11

"Same old, same old.... That's to say the same stupid feelings of entitlement: RBR spends millions on F1 therefore they must\ought to win; it's their "birthright"

Sorry Mr Marko, but that's not how it works. Proper F1 Teams like Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Renault\Lotus etc. can\have gone for years without success. They have a moan & a dig, then get on with trying to outsmart\out engineer\out drive their opponents. Its called "Sport".

Of course he's a bit irritated that RBR can't win. Of course RBR is there to win not just "participate". That's the sine qua non of a competitive sport.

By definition everyone, including the "minor" teams is there to challenge & be challenged. Maybe Manor will never win a GP, let alone a championship, but I'm sure they'll do their best without Marko's level of grudging bitterness."

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2. Posted by meatball, 14/03/2016 16:14

"I can't believe that all we can come up with is "go home if you aren't happy". I believe that in essence these guys are right. And fact is that they are SAYING what most of the mid-pack teams are THINKING, shows that these guys at least have some balls.

In terms of F1's pace of development, it has been a VERY long time since another team other than maybe Ferrari has stood a chance at winning a race prior to qualifying, without some god-like act (read "light rain") being the cause. By that I mean that we all go into the weekend wondering who will stand on the 3rd step of the podium, knowing with little doubt the who the 2 drivers will be on 1 and 2. RBR are echoing what every fan is thinking - we are tired of the BS and red-tape of the whole sport! Of course they are saying it in their terms and in their case they have said time and time again, we don't spend hundreds of millions to finish 5th. Who would? We all know that if they had the same engine as the Merc’s they’d be in 2nd all day long and make Merc VERY nervous.

They are still a very recognizable brand and a big enough wheel in F1 to stir things up and we should thank them for trying. IF they go and IF they take STR with them, that's 4 great cars gone from the grid. It cannot be ignored. At every turn they get stymied by the old guard saying "Nope". Want a new Merc engine? "nope" insert some BS statement about keeping customers on more "reliable" 2015 engine programs. Want a 3rd party engine (insert Ilmor or a Cosworth or Lamborghini) SURE!, oh, wait, NOPE - the prancing horse vetoed that (why do they have that ability nowadays??).

RBR is saying we WANT to race, we WANT to follow your rules but we INSIST on being ALLOWED to be competitive with the top teams and the top teams KNOW they can be and that scares them. Name another current privateer with the same abilities? RBR is at the top of the pile bar-none.

Personally I would HATE to see 4 great cars leave the grid, whining or not. They have provided a lot of entertainment for us over the years and currently there is no room in this sport for entertainment and that's a huge shame.

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3. Posted by edllorca, 13/03/2016 16:17

"Maybe we can get rid of him and Bernie in the same move. Got to hatch a plan"

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4. Posted by F One, 12/03/2016 22:53

"This guy's such an jerk. Still with the "Waah if I can't win I won't play!" nonsense.

I'm still very disappointed that Red Bull didn't leave at the end of last season like I hoped they would."

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5. Posted by Yeyox02, 12/03/2016 22:26

"RB= The Death Star. Mateschitz= Darth Sidious. Marko= Darth Vader. "

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6. Posted by Nortim, 12/03/2016 16:51

"Already starting to blame someone, this time it's drivers? This year it want be the PU? "

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