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Alguersuari and Buemi “not winners” says Red Bull’s Helmut Marko
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Jan 2012   |  6:49 pm GMT  |  168 comments

Helmut Marko, whose influence on the moves made by the Red Bull company in F1 is significant, has explained why the company decided to drop Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi from the Toro Rosso team.

“Toro Rosso was created to give young drivers a chance,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport yesterday. “Alguersuari and Buemi had that chance for three years and after that period it’s possible to evaluate a drivers’ development.

“We didn’t see in them any possibility of growth. Both are Grand Prix drivers, but for us that’s not enough. We want Grand Prix winners.”

Although a tough decision, you can see what he’s getting at.

Both drivers showed some signs of doing well, Alguersuari in particular seemed to be getting stronger in the second half of the season and put in some very strong drives, using the clever strategies devised by Giorgio Ascanelli, but the company has unlimited tools for measuring performance and progress and they could see that both didn’t have what it takes to become winners in the highly competitive environment of F1.

Much has been made by fans of the incident in Korea between Alguersuari and Marko as a reason for his demise, but it is surely an overall impression that he’s not a winner.

Buemi was always inconsistent, while Alguersuari was thrown into the fray very young, at the age of 19 and arguably didn’t have the experience or the knowledge to capitalise. Jenson Button knows about that having had a similar experience with Williams and Benetton/Renault when he started at just 20 years of age.

Looking back on the December move to drop both in favour of Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo, although it seemed something of a shock at the time, Marko has a job to do and he took the view that his priority was the two promising young drivers ready to make the next move; Vergne and Ricciardo. Both of whom, incidentally, have more experience than Alguersuari had when he made the move to F1.

Whether they have the consistency, the intelligence and, above all, the speed to make it as Grand Prix winners, the next two years will tell us, as that is how long they need to be given to prove themselves.

Perhaps Red Bull and Marko have realised that throwing a driver in too young is a mistake, one for which Alguersuari is now paying the price.

But the point to remember about the Red Bull way of grooming drivers is that what they give them – by funding top drives on the ladder to F1 and then a couple of seasons with Toro Rosso, is an opportunity and it is up to the drivers to grab that opportunity and prove themselves.

None of them gets being paid very much, but arguably it is costing Red Bull around €4 million per driver to get them to F1 and then the Toro Rosso budget will be another €70-80m a year, the purpose being largely to develop them as drivers.

Without the Red Bull investment most of them wouldn’t get that chance. So it’s tough, but you can see the thinking there.

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@james offtopic

Why have you put an image of marko with vettel on buemi/algesauri post?

Vettel usually consults a lawyer n a CA during any negotiation. Is that lawyer Marko?


But did Jaime lose his test driver seat at Redbull bcoz of the argument as buemi too isn’t a winner. Or is it buemi is better in giving feedback?

Can horner dismiss a potential winner arguing about team harmony due to such an argument?



Did Alugusauri’s Korea event of blocking Vettel and that argument with Marko make him lose STR seat and test driver role at Redbull n STR?

Congrats on ur new job. I hope u will continue ur forum n interacting with us.


I don’t think so. If Marko thought he was a winner he would still be there


@Graham Coles

I think Marko s appointed by redbull to discover not develop talent.

These drivers don’t pay to develop themselves. They r paid by redbull if redbull finds them talented.


To David A

Ok mate. Your words just clearly says that you are Vettel fan.

Keep supporting him. In fact everyone likes their drivers very much and supports them.

There’s no wrong in that. All the best for 2012 season.


The way that Marko runs this ‘academy’ means that Red Bull ‘discovers’ drivers rather than ‘develops’ them.

This explains why only Vettel has shown up after a number of years and many drivers signed. Vettel would have made it anyway irrespective of which team he came from.

The inability of Red Bull to develop and mature anyone else supports this point of view.

Last year Ricciardo’s name was being dribbled out as the ‘next big thing’. Maybe, but performance to date doesn’t support that. He appears to be the next in a long line of names that ‘weren’t good enough’. But in reality the one thing he hasn’t had is time. A factor that RB don’t seem to acknowledge as necessary.

I’m sure the RB supporters (and Marko) will point to banks of data and sophisticarted monitoring systems, but that’s just something to hide behind.

In my work you can have the greatest analytical tools available – but you’re not judged on that. You’re judged on the result.

So far worldwide RB has produced Vettel with no one else looking likely to follow him.

This is a worse ‘hit rate’ that Tyrell had in the 70’s for crying out loud, or Lotus, or Williams, or McLaren.

This reeks of too much money and not enough application. I’m sure Marko talks a good game and he has a wall of stats to hide behind, but the reality of the situation is that despite all this investment he is not producing the goods.


This feels like a good place to post an observation I’ve been considering for some time.

It feels to me that Red Bull have really failed at extracting as much positive PR from their success as they should have done. As the current top team in the sport you would imagine they would have many, many fans. Instead though, Red Bull seem to come across as the bad guys.

This image translates to the drivers too. Some people wonder if Webber receives equal treatment from the team and this perhaps enhances his image as someone who has to fight his corner. Everyone loves an underdog. Far more interesting though is if you look at Vettel and how Red Bulls image projects onto him. We see that many fans have been slow to acknowledge his talent for what it really is. Most commentators would agree that Vettel is supreme in his talents and quite probably the best driver on the grid at the moment. However, Red Bull somehow seem to tarnish this image and rather than basking in the admiration of all fans, lots of people dislike Vettel. I believe if Vettel had been driving for Ferrari over the past couple of seasons, he would have a much larger army of loyal followers.

Vettel is so good that people are starting to come around to him anyway. At least that’s my feeling. But, it’s a shame that the judgement of Vettel’s talent is so adversely effect by Red Bull’s somewhat negative PR in the eyes of many fans.

I’d be interested to know what other people make of this theory….



Really disappointed to read this. The 2 guys are still very young and as others have pointed out button was written off in the same way. What disappoints me is there was no need for it. Sure, fire them and tell them in private but don’t tell the whole world.


Glad to see that someone in todays age of being all diplomatic, trying to please all and never offending anyone ever, someone has the balls to come out and say what they honestly think.

I think he is right. I think that they are both (especially Alguersuari) decent drivers, however neither of them is the next Vettel, if they were we would have known it by now, they have had long enough.

It has always been made clear that STR are a feeder and driver development team for the mother ship Red Bull. As I said I think they are both decent drivers and I hope they are in with a shout elsewhere but the time had come to let someone else have a crack at it, someone who might be the next Vettel. That surely can’t be a bad thing?


I guess Marko will be firing the entire Toro Rosso sqaud for failing to give Buemi and Jaimi a car to show they are ‘GP Winners.’ How people like this get into positions of influence is amazing. What marko should have said was… hey boys, throw a few more bob at the seat and we’ll sign u up for another couple of years… ’cause honetly, no driver in those cars are going to consistently crack the top 6.


After reading the article my immediate reaction was that Marko’s comments were unnecessary. I was surprised to see how many other people felt the same way.

Hopefully someone at Red Bull is paying attention. If this race team is a marketing effort, constantly generating negative publicity in this way doesn’t fit with that goal.


Interesting that this statement is made by a man who’s highest finish was 8th in a car that twice won a GP, whereas the two TR drivers he’s putting down never had a really competitive car under them


It just comes to confirm, again, that Red Bull is a drinks company, not a racing outfit or a car manufacturer. They don’t have the legacy, the know-how to deal with young driver talent and future management. It’s simply, you don’t win, you leave. One must ask if the Toro Rosso car was up to the task the first part of the season. Obviously not. For the second half they improved it and the results came along. Let’s not forget SV benefited in those TR days from a car that was basically a Red Bull with Ferrari engine. Then the rules changed and suddenly the Toro was nowhere.

And all these, of course, comes from an openly anti-red bull fan. I’ve made my statement.


Could someone explain the “Korean Incident”?


Alguersuari blocked Vettel which resulted in a telling off…



Do you know what agreements redbull has with its young drivers? – surely Seb is stuck there forever – it would be part of them “finding” him wouldnt it?


His deal is to the end of 2014, as far as I know. Ferrari will make a play for him then, it appears


I can see the thinking behind the decision, but I personally question the merits of a strategy that invests so much money in the slim

hope of finding another driver like Vettel, Hamilton, or Alonso. The chances of finding another driver of that quality are exceedingly slim and if that’s the stated aim of the Scuderia Torro Rosso team, then it should be scrapped in favour of something a little more worthwhile.

For me, the bigger picture behind all of this is a lack of testing opportunities for young drivers. If we had season long testing, the likes of Jaime Algesuari and Sebastian Buemi could be assessed, readied and honed for racing, instead of being thrown into a midfield team and subjected to the harshest possible scrutiny and comparison.

Worst of all, at least one of them now has to cope with the publicly mooted suggestion that he’s lacking in intelligence. That will be a very difficult label to shake and, as a 21-year old, one he’ll probably have to contend with for a long while yet.

It seems that the lack of testing has a different, human cost; one which agreements like the RRA fail to recognise.

I’m not saying the RRA is a bad idea – it isn’t, its a good idea, but a ban on in-season testing remains a highly questionable rule, one which has seriously undermined the sports ability to renew itself.

I mean, how many world champions do we have on the grid now?


I’m sure Marko gave the 2 young guns plenty of warnings before firing Jaimi. It is Jaimi’s dumbness that let himself down.

On the plus side, Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo now has a proper opportunity to show what they can really do!

Honestly, I would have forgotten about these 2 kids before the start on the 1st GP.


absolutely the correct decision

absolutely NOT the way to do it

surely this could have been announced to the drivers a couple of months before the end of the season and then a public announcement at seasons end ….in line with our policy of introducing nnew young drivers at the team we will shortly be announcing our choices …etc


Must be considered also neither Buemi or Algersuari are german, while it has been clear Marko is quite sensitive to this character. In matters of facts, he clearly supported Vettel against Webber, and the second suddenly became much slower than the german, this since after famous battle in Turkish GP. I’m afraid Marko likes winners, expecially if they are german.


How can they say like “Both are Grand Prix drivers, but for us that’s not enough. We want Grand Prix winners.”

Only Vettel won in Toro Rosso and that too in wet. If it was dry, I am sure he would have not won the Monza gp in 2008.

Is this toro rosso is a grand prix winning car? They gotta answer this question before commenting stupid things about F1 drivers.

I think Mr. Marko didn’t understand in which level toro rosso is.


I thought rain was supposed to be the element that levels out the differences in cars? Anyway, look SV’s other 7 points finishes and other 9 Q3 appearances in 2008. They show the potential to be a grand-prix winner or champion with a better car, and that’s what has happened since 2009.


If you are an vettel fan, I just don’t care about that.

He is not the best. He is good. End of word.

There are better drivers than him, who was not there in the right time in right team.

Even Schumacher’s era came to an end.

How about Vettel?

It will happen. Someone will come, just like Alonso.


My point was that Vettel showed winning potential in the STR (apart from Monza), by taking regular top 6 finishes. Buemi and Alguersuari in the eyes of STR (who have more data and knowledge than you or I) didn’t do much that was special (in a car not as bad as say, the 2001 Minardi), considering they had twice the number of races.

“There are better drivers than him, who was not there in the right time in right team.”

Like who? There’s no way of determining how these drivers (you’ve not even cared to give an example) are better than a 21 time grand prix winner. Do you mean Paul Di Resta who lost to Adrian Sutil?

“Even Schumacher’s era came to an end.

How about Vettel?

It will happen. Someone will come, just like Alonso.”

Even if or when someone comes along, SV’s current success means that he is arguably the best on the grid, and that is how he’ll be remembered. Currently he is the one to beat, as the double world champion. You’ll have to live with that.


It may well be that he is correct but it is the way that it was done, I wish at least one of them could go on to win a race, but having trashed them it is now probably unlikely that they will get a chance in a car capable of winning. Is sacking them not enough, he then goes on to ruin things for them.


As usual people make conclusions about this situation based on a article by James without taking account of whats actually written

Nowhere does Marko say that JA intellect is in question, James makes a comment from a internal audit.

In fact he actually says they are good F1 drivers lets face it there are a lot of these good drivers but not winners.

The other thing is this, they both knew they had no contract in place for 2012 and they would need new ones. I would think that any person would have been looking at there options earlier than waiting for the hammer to drop right at the end.I am pretty certain that this is the case they knew in the back of their minds what was going to happen just didn’t want to admit it

Both of these drivers were given a great chance and failed to deliver under there contract criteria.

If I was spending the money redbull do on driver development I would certainly want the best not the second best.

Lets face it drivers come and go in a couple of years you wont even remember these two drivers. There are hundreds more out there that could do the same job just didn’t get the same lucky chance these two did


No, they weren’t anything special in the grand scheme of F1 drivers, and you’re right with many of your points. However they do deserve the respect accorded to any other employee – by all accounts neither Buemi nor Alguesari were given an indication their contracts would not be renewed (presumably they asked). At the same time, if you fulfiled a contracted job and did what most impartial observers would agree was a reasonable job, you might not assume your contract would be automatically renewed, but you would assume the contractor would have the professionalism to not bad mouth you after the fact, wouldn’t you?

Sure, sure, they had more of a chance at being an F1 driver than the vast majority of hopefully will ever get near, but that doesn’t excuse unprofessionalism on the part of Herr Marko.


I think Red Bull should be applauded for having such a comprehensive young drivers programme. I guess it must be the best and most expensive in F1.

If you get on it you would be thrilled but to stay on it, well you have to be another Vettel. If Seb had not performed as well he too would have been discarded. Discarding Algeusari and Buemi lets two other drivers to move up, join the programme and develop, thats life and F1 in particular.


I don’t think either were ever going to be the best driver in the World but it’s clear that Jaime at least had untapped potential. Fair enough if Helmut wanted someone else, or he sees STR as not being a place for drivers with more than a couple of years experience, but to dump them at the last minute and then rub salt in the wound (and potentially diminish their chances elsewhere) by basically saying ‘they were rubbish’ is typical of the man. Highly unprofessional, and concerned more with proving himself right than actually doing his job.


Certainly, modern F1 turned not to be only velocity but complex of tough strategical decisions where the driver is in place of main CPU; perhaps future F1 teams’ management at first will perform IQ test for the drivers 🙂 and then driving tests.

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