(GMM) Ralf Schumacher has a clear message for Formula 1’s dominant Red Bull team – don’t oust Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko.
This year, rumors of a power struggle between team boss Christian Horner and Red Bull consultant Marko, 80, have been swirling – apparently triggered by the death of Marko’s fellow Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz.
Marko has survived so far, especially since his ultra-successful protégé Max Verstappen said at the end of November: “I will not let him fall.”
And former F1 driver Schumacher warns Red Bull not to let the rumors re-fire.
“Red Bull certainly still needs Helmut Marko,” the German told formel1.de. “I can also imagine that Verstappen will not allow Marko to leave. He has already been very clear about that.
“As long as he drives there, not much will change.”
However, it seems clear that Marko’s tenure will end eventually – and not just because of his age, but because his current contract runs out in late 2024.
“Helmut has been walking around in this world for a long time,” Schumacher said. “At some point he will also start asking himself some questions.
“I’m actually surprised that he’s still so active. That deserves nothing but respect, especially because he has already meant so much to Red Bull.”
Marko is perhaps best known for his work in Red Bull’s ultra-successful, but also controversial junior driver program, which has produced the likes of Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and more but also arguably discarded many others prematurely.
“Of course Helmut can be quite harsh sometimes,” Schumacher said, “but when you invest money in someone, you can expect to something out of it.
“So it might also be a good thing, to deal with the young guys the way it used to be. After all, it is performance alone that counts in Formula 1. I can certainly see a future for Marko in that.”
For his part, Verstappen insists he is a friend and an admirer of Marko’s straightforward, black-and-white approach to motor racing.
“That’s how I’ve approached my entire career,” said the triple world champion. “If it’s bad, it’s bad, and if it’s good, it’s good,” he told motorsport-magazin.com. “There’s nothing in between.”
The 26-year-old Dutchman, however, admits that he no longer tolerates Marko’s famous 7.30am phone calls.
“I’m still sleeping then,” Verstappen laughed. “I just call him back at 10.
“At some point I think he understood that I am not ready for him at 7.30 or 8 in the morning. I think he also appreciates that in a way, because you have set your limits and he is the same way.”