Helmut Marko, the mastermind behind Red Bull Racing’s driver development programme, is the latest Online Driving Instructor for SAFEisFAST.com.
With Marko at the helm, the Red Bull Junior Team has become one of the most successful driver development programmes ever, producing talents such as Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen to name but a few. The Austrian also acts as a consultant to the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team.
A childhood friend of 1970 F1 World Champion Jochen Rindt, Marko was a talented driver in his own right.
He enjoyed his first major success in 1971, winning that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours alongside Dutchman Gijs van Lennep in a Porsche 917. This acted as a springboard into F1 where he made his debut in a Jo Bonnier-run McLaren at the 1971 German Grand Prix. His maiden race, however, was disastrous; the car ran out of fuel on its first lap out of the pits.
He had more success in sports cars. During the the 1972 Targa Florio, an endurance race held on the mountain roads of Sicily, he set the fastest laps of the race at the wheel of an Alpha Romeo 33. Marko’s best lap time was 33 minutes and 41 seconds, averaging just over 128kph around the 72km circuit. He would eventually finish second, having cut the lead car’s advantage by two minutes over the course of just two laps.
That year Marko also took the wheel of a BRM in Formula 1 and was beginning to display his promising talent. However, whilst running fifth on the ninth lap of the 1972 French Grand Prix, a stone was thrown up by a car ahead, smashing through his visor and into his left eye. Marko lost vision in the eye and never raced again.
A driving career cruelly robbed from him, Marko turned his attentions to driver management and development. As part of this new venture, he founded a junior formula team, RSM Marko, and ran cars in F3 and later in F3000, eventually selling the outfit to Red Bull boss, Dietrich Mateschitz.
His first truly successful discovery was Gerhard Berger, a young and talented Austrian whom he would help reach the lofty heights of F1. From that point his reputation as a talent spotter and developer grew, culminating in his heading up of the Red Bull Junior Team, an initiative that has under his leadership produced 11 F1 drivers and a four-time world champion.
Send in your questions for Helmut Marko to answer here.
SAFEisFAST.com presented by Honda Performance Development is a free online resource offering video tutorials on safety, fitness, mental skills, race craft, career development, sponsorship, marketing and more to assist the careers of drivers in all forms of racing. Will Power is the latest in a long list of expert motor sport professionals to serve as an Online Instructor, including Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button, Indy 500 winners Dario Franchitti and Gil de Ferran and two-time Le Mans winner Alexander Wurz.
Since its launch, there have been over one million views of the online tutorials, from visitors representing more than 160 countries.
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