What to make of Helmut Marko’s comments about Mark Webber?
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Jan 2013   |  9:57 am GMT  |  375 comments

When you are in the public eye, giving interviews, sometimes you get misquoted or a quote is mistranslated. It happens in F1 all the time.

But when that interview is in your own in-house magazine, you do not have that excuse. So how are we to read the comments this week in the Red Bulletin from Red Bull special adviser Helmut Marko appearing to slate the team’s own driver, Mark Webber?

“Red Bull puts him in a car – a possible winner – and suddenly along comes this young kid and he snatches the booty from under Mark’s nose. Psychologically it’s not easy, of course; this would gnaw away at anyone’s confidence. It’s more than understandable,” says Marko.

“It seems to me that Webber has on average two races per year where he is unbeatable, but he can’t maintain this form throughout the year. And as soon as his prospects start to look good in the world championship, he has a little trouble with the pressure that this creates.

“In comparison with Seb’s rising form, it seems to me that Mark’s form somehow flattens out. Then, if some technical mishap occurs, like with the alternator for example, he falls relatively easily into a downward spiral.

“No driver remains unaffected by this, because the tension is palpable. In 2010, it was particularly extreme. ”

There is no arguing with the results; in their four years together Vettel has won three titles and 25 races, while Webber has won 9 races. There is therefore some truth in what he says about Webber’s inconsistent form, especially in the closing stages of a season, but Webber did have a lot of reliability issues in the run-in last year. It’s still pretty harsh to couch it in these terms, especially this line: “he falls relatively easily into a downward spiral.”

One could imagine these comments coming from someone in a rival team, a bit of “sledging”, but it’s not normal for this kind of talk to come from someone inside the same team.

So why is it happening?

The conclusion most people will leap to is that it’s more of the same from Marko, who has obviously favoured his protege Sebastian Vettel over Webber for many years. We’ve had a couple of episodes like the front wing swap at Silverstone in 2010, while made it look like the team favoured Vettel. It will lead many fans to dislike Vettel, for his perceived “golden boy” status within the team.

Perhaps Marko wants this to be Webber’s last season to make room for another of his proteges, although there isn’t one obviously ready for the move.

But if you stand back and look at Red Bull’s situation, they have now won the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships for three years running, the team is tired due to longer hours than their rivals working on complex cars, their rivals like Ferrari and McLaren are super motivated and well prepared and there is only one way for the team to go; downwards.

They must guard against that at all costs, keep everyone motivated.

Now the oldest driver in F1 at 35, Webber performs best when his back is against the wall and, if he wasn’t before, he will certainly be fired up to start the season strongly and heap pressure on Vettel. There should be plenty of that anyway from McLaren and Ferrari this year, but Marko clearly feels that Red Bull need to keep the pressure up internally to drive everyone on to that fourth world title.

Ferrari had the same situation in the early 2000s when they kept the winning streak going for five seasons with Michael Schumacher, but there were some inbuilt advantages there, like bespoke Bridgestone tyres, endless testing and a weaker opposition. But the difference is that no-one ever publicly drove a wedge between driver and team, as is happening here.

The same is true with the Team GB Olympic Cycling Team; having won so many gold medals in Beijing, they exceeded that in the London Games last year. Extensive TV documentary output in recent months has shown that the team’s leader Sir Dave Brailsford, had the same philosophy as Schumacher, Ross Brawn and Jean Todt at Ferrari; leave no stone unturned, attend to every detail, look for any and every incremental gain. And it worked.

But again, you never heard Brailsford criticising one of his riders like Marko is doing here with Webber.

To make Webber feel a bit better about it, Marko also has a pop at Fernando Alonso for getting involved in “politics and funny comments”.

Alonso has thanked Marko for the comments; to him it shows that Red Bull feels threatened by him and such is the way of F1, that comments are often made when people feel under threat.

It’s all grist to the mill; polemic comments like these provide the oxygen of publicity to F1, which Bernie Ecclestone has always fostered and encouraged.

But this particular episode does feel out of the ordinary, at least as far as Webber is concerned and one feels that the ripples could continue throughout the early part of the season.

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1

I hope Mark Webber succeeds in Sports Car Racing in 2014 and Daniel isn’t going to be sledged by Helmut Marko in 2014. Helmut Marko is reliving his unspectacular F1 career through his protege Vettel. Marko was a great sports car driver however. Point to remember RBR needed Mark’s points to win the contructors championship 4 years in a row, even Marko can not give Mark some credit for his contribution there.

2

Listen im a massive Mark Webber fan, he’s the only reason why I watch F1, add now Daniel Ricciardo but it’s hard to argue against Marko, Webber does fail to live up to the cars potential… and he is a quality driver so it does come down to the composure of the driver, and he does lack that sometimes, and im sure it frustrates him as much as it does the fans… I hope he can live up to his “AussieGrit” name and have a great 2013!

3

Real late on this one, and this may have already been mentioned, but when Marko talks about Webber i always think it is very important to remember that Webber deals directly with DM when renewing his contract.

My guess would be that Webber would have been gone years ago if Marko was in charge of hiring or firing him!

4

I really lost my respect for webber after brazil. He should have supported his teamate. And I think that is the main reason for Mario’s statements. And I honestly think vettel is a great driver. Name me one driver that has been WDC driving a marussia or an HRT. Everybody really needs a competitive car.

5

How was he supposed to help his team mate in Brazil when he was back in the pack? I said earlier in another post that Webber left a car space on the inside, but Seb broke way too early for the first turn – his similarly early braking at turn 3 almost resulted in Raikkonen collecting him, and enabled Bruno to look up the inside. Webber spent most of the day at or near the front, and Vettel only got the places he needed owing to the STR drivers and his compatriots leaping out of the way. Vettel was culpable for a few things on that first lap and if it wasn’t for his obscene good fortune the championship would have been lost then and there.

7

Perhaps he thinks that he’ll get DM to let another of his driver compliment up, if he winds Webber up enough to get a reaction.

The press release tanked for RBR as a team in PR terms?

Sounds desperate like Alonso says…

But really, Marko’s worried that Seb ain’t going to have any rear end blow again in 2013. We saw what happens to his relative speed without it didn’t we? It looked like it was him that was eager to be first to risk the extra stress on the alternator and suffer the first failure didn’t it?

There should be no room allowed for driver manager’s in the paddock or the team infrastructure. Same with Lotus now and before with Briatore/Renault. Teams should be set free of conflicting interests.

8

It seems like obvious payback, because Mark competed against Vettel, rather than falling over himself to get out of the way.

But ask yourself this, who is Marko and what can he do. Can’t drive, can’t manage, not constructive and not pleasant. Red Bull would be better off without him. Ask Craig Lowndes what he thinks.

9
George O'Sullivan

Red Bulls results have been great to watch with the one exception of Marko comments almost everytime he makes any statement!! Its to bad Horner has to put up with this guys place in the team ( A warden installed by the big guy at Red Bull)

Look for more of the same from Lauda at Benz in 2013, That said I have more respect for Lauda but the time and politics at the Jaguar team are likley to be repeated, I would love to really know how Brawn feels about that??

As somebody’s commented earlier why can these guys not keep their statments behind closed doors! George O’Sullivan

10

Just speculation on my part.

I think it’s a very public “I told you so” from Helmut to the rest of the Red Bull camp. Helmut was probably of the view that Mark should be a no.2 driver since 2009. However, others in the Red Bull camp argued for equal status on the basis that Webber has the ability and could win a WDC.

Personally I’ve always cheered for both Red Bull drivers and also a few others, as the individuals are good drivers, genuine and entertaining.

However, Webber squeezing his teammate at the last race when the championship was on the line – I was quite shocked. Can’t understand why Webber would disadvantage his own teammates when Webber no longer had the chance to win. Especially when in 2011, Vettel delivered an Oscar winning gearbox issue, that allowed Webber to win. Am still prepared to give Mark the benefit of the doubt, but his driving is bordering on being petty, rather than sporting.

Can’t wait for the 2013 season.

11

+1,000,000

12

Webber did that because frankly he would rather anyone win the championship but his own teammate. Every WC that Vettel wins makes Webber look worse and worse in comparison and just serves to cement Webber’s no.2 status.

13

WDC or no WDC if it’s not working you’re not winning. And when Webber re-signed his contract in 2012 the car stopped working.

Regularly.

14

I doubt if anyone is still reading this far down the page but I would like to say these comments from Marko make me think he is protecting himself and his legacy.

If there is anyone at risk in the RB garage it is Marko, not webber.

Vettel, now a three time champion, does not need Marko.

In winning the last three championships, he has effectively prevented anyone else, including Marko-developed drivers from reaching the same heights.

Marko has only had one success at RB, (vettel) and so he needs to get out there and rubbish the only guy who has come close in an identical car.

these are ingracious comments from Marko.

He should be the one contemplating retirement.

15

I read it too and I agree on most of your post.

The one that seems to fail big time is Mr. Marko himself and with these comments about Webber he is more or less endorsing this.

His Red Bull driver development programme doesnt deliver a young recrute good enough to exchange a driver that “falls relatively easily into a downward spiral and is only unbeatable in one or two races a year”

Everyone has a right to say what he wants and to some extend the results confirm his thoughts too. In my opinion Marko did cross a line however, putting the dirty laundry in your in-house magazine.

Previous comments from Goldfinger Daddy were stupid and biased to an extend that it balances between deeply sad or completely laughable.

He isnt at RB level.

16

Interesting thoughts, especially ‘ to some extend the results confirm his thouths’

I’ve noticed that for four years running, Webber has been the best placed RB driver at the mid-season break (Hungory), but then he fades.

Dr Marko will be 70 this year, if MW wins a few races this year, I still think its Marko that will retire first

17

The “to -some- extend” is actually refering to the final results… SV is a triple WC after all whereas MW wasnt even in the second best place -at the end of the season-.

But the final results are, in my opinion, coming from a car that was dailed in around SV (both times, when RB got their blown diffusor into work, SV started to gain huge performance on MW). That is not a coincidence.

About Marko retiring….

RB should already have said him : “Its gonna be tough without you here, yet we’re gonna try”.

I rather see Marko go than the most sincere F1 driver in the field.

18

I read it.

19

Hmm,

I have just read all the posts from http://jaonf1.wpengine.com/2010/05/so-is-vettel-the-favoured-son-at-red-bull/

Very interesting how times have changed but stayed the same. Dr Marko was and is an unabashed fan of his young driver programme; it has made a lot of money (cost a lot too but got to spend to make). I would say to all the VET fans go back and read that thread.

It does raise a question – as fans we have seen for a number of years that VET is favoured (and post 2010 team orders were allowed “again”), why then does WEB (who is neither blind nor stupid) continue to sign contracts with RBR? WEB was the better driver for the first part of 2010 and 2012, but by CH’s own admission the car was developed towards VET through the years. And with limited development for 2013 we can expect to see a car very similar to the last events (I hesitate to use the word “races” – please don’t bang on about Austin TX) of 2012, so VET will have a comfortable season where his team mate does not have to develop the car for him.

Marko is irrelevant – he is VET’s godfather but increasingly no more, why does the team continue to publish his vitriol towards it’s founding driver? Mark was there before RB, his reputation will outlive the marketing. Sadly the marketing cost him the WDC in 2010 – but we all know that.

I am a WEB fan, why not? There may be faster drivers and more successful, but there are few few to carry themselves with such aplomb though years of F1.

Bring on 2014

20

Evidently Marko didn’t speak to his colleague Christian Horner, who recently went public with his view that the late-season upgrades to the RB8 didn’t suit Webber’s driving style. No mention of the alternator failure costing him a pretty much guaranteed podium in Austin, either, or being taken out in an accident not of his own making in Abu Dhabi. No problem with expressing your opinion on a driver, but you should at least be even-handed in doing so. This seems a highly counter-productive attitude for Marko to adopt, and I can’t imagine it went down too well in Milton Keynes.

21

Haven’t read anyone’s comment on this subject (I will do so after this posting). When I first read Marko’s comment on Webber, my heart sank. As with every parent, you may have your favorite amaongst your kids. The kid who lights up your eyes meore when s/he shows up. As a good parent, you never let any of your kids know this. and not even your wife (even she might feel you have favoritism). Marko, in my personal view, has crossed this line. I do feel for Webber. I really do. DS.

22

Die Scuderia – you are so right!

23

That Webber may have been able to avoid the collision in Turkey does not mean he caused it. Horner and Marko may have blamed him in the immediate aftermath but a good many other knowledgeable observers disagreed with them; in fact, insofar as it was any one driver’s fault, I would say most disagreed with them.

24

I believe that Mr. Marko made a huge mental mistake. Marko has always said that Vettel is winning not because he has had a fantastic car but because he has been a great driver. One of Marko’s arguments is that Vettel has outperformed Webber in the past 3 years. However, now it seems that in Marko’s opinion Webber is an average driver. Therefore, we can conclude that Vettel competing against Webber is not a real challenge for him. As Sir Jackie Stewart said few days ago (“Sebastian Vettel has yet to prove himself even after the becoming the youngest triple champion last month”), Vettel will require more time and other circumstances to really prove that he is a great driver, not a good driver with a fantastic car.

25

Well, Marko certainly knows all about failing at F1. Im sure Webber will sigh and then think about what DVD to watch tonight when he reads the comments…

26

I have a lot of trouble with Red Bull’s philosophy in every sporting event they’ve participated in. Just ask an Austrian (even one from Salzburg) what he thinks about their football championship.

Give RB’s record, it is truly amazing they don’t have a race track of their own in the F1 calendar yet. They almost got one this year, with the renamed A1 Ring in Austria being put forward as a likely replacement European race, but thankfully this turned out to be wishful thinking, and nothing more.

I really like Vettel as a driver, and Webber, of course. I just wish they weren’t driving for this team.

27

It is time we spoke publically about YOUR imminent retirement Marko.

You will not be missed.

28

Next time Mark walks past Helmut he should ask, “how many GP’s you won again??”

29
Scuderia McLaren

Yeah that would be funny. What would be even funnier, for me, would be Sebastian asking Mark how many WDC’s he has won as he walks past.

Considering Marko did not have a car capable of winning a GP, and then lost his eye early, one can see why he has 0 to his name. Unlike people like Brundle and the like, who had every chance, good cars occasionally, many years, and won nothing.

Mark has had 3 (maybe 4 if you count 09) cars that could win races and WDC’s even. In all that time, four years of technical dominance, he has won 9GP’s and came 6th this year. He has never even been “runner up” let alone actually genuinely contest a WDC.

WELL DONE MARK! Personally, I’d probably not do as much talking as Mark tends to do all things considered. I dont think anyone in the history of the sport could have asked for a better opportunity that Mark has gotten and delivered so little.

If Red Bull is dominant this year, as is likely, he will have had half a decade of the best car, or close to the best car. He might, just might, break into double figures of wins. Only Schumacher has enjoyed this, and we know what he did with that.

30

Marko was driving a BRM. Jo Siffert, Peter Gethin and Jean-Pierre Beltoise all WON RACES for BRM whilst Marko was competing for the team, and he scored not so much as a point. So the car excuse is simply not valid.

31
Scuderia McLaren

Mark’s Melbourne 2002 debut was certainly impressive. I agree there. After that, it was hard not to expect great things to come eventually. In fact, Mark has had many impressive drives. Both junior and F1 career. But for me, he just has not had really impressive years overall.

I apologise for the wiki research comment. We simply have different points of veiw.

Incidentally, I agree also that Marko is a prat, and i really dont like him. i’d have a beer with webber before marko any day, but I happen to agree with the content of what he said, broadly speaking. Webber, to me, I well over rated as compared to actual results vs. opportunity.

What i agree with in essence is that, to me, Webber is unbeatable 2-3 times a season. Both junior and F1 career shows this. But the rest of the time he is wasting the RBR. And has done for 4 years. How this can be ignored I don’t know.

In relation to Alguesuari. That axing really annoyed me. I think he should be in F1. They way he got axed was also really terrible. Marko was wrong there. I have also never heard Marko complain and “use the bad car excuse”. I was replying to the very first comment where someone suggested Webber taunt Marko with his “success”.

Webber can point to a cupboard full of trophies, yes that is true. But what I am saying is given his equipment, surely one could have expected more wins, more podiums and higher WDC placings from the experienced driver as opposed to Vettel who was near rookie status at the start of their team mate relationship.

32

Let’s not insult each other’s intelligence – I’m sure neither of us are relying on Wikipedia here. First, I was at Melbourne 2002 when Webber came 5th on his debut in the worst car on the grid. So he impressed straight away in F1. Second, by the time 1972 came round, Marko had a P160 machine, and still did nothing, not in qualifying, not in races. The history of F1 is littered with drivers who did well in other formulae but nothing on the big stage. Third, in any case, if he can use the excuse that ‘he did reasonably in poor cars’ why does that not apply to Jaime Alguersuari, who he axed for ‘not being good enough’, despite improving year on year in a poor car.

The man is an arrogant, hypocritical prat, and if he thinks insulting and belittling one of his current drivers is good management then he is more of a fool than I thought. Webber can point to a cupboard full of trophies from his career, Marko to a cupboard full of excuses.

33
Scuderia McLaren

Oh please don’t insult our intelligence. You know as well as I do that while he was driving a “BRM”, it was generations olds. The car he had, in comparison to the drivers you mentioned, was terrible. If you actually do research other than simply Wiki it, you’d know that. As I said, he didn’t have a real opportunity. Mark will have had half a decade of races of superior technical equipment. Hppefully this is his last year he takes up a premium seat. As for the lack of points, in the current system (and the one before) he’d have a few points. Incidentally, how many races did it take Webbo to win? Wiki that my friend. Certainly not 9.

34

2010 wasn’t genuinely contesting the WDC?! He was 8 pts out going into that final round, and was beaten to first by the driver 3rd going into the final race.

[mod]

35
Scuderia McLaren

Yeah you are right about 2010. He did contest the title. In fact, he probably had the best chance of all in Abu Dhabi. Had the fastest car and a pts advantage over Vettel. He showed, again, how he crumbles under pressure. That was his best chance as Vettel through immaturity threw 40 or so pts away and was a bit ragged. But he missed that year and now Vettel became too good as history now shows. He didn’t get runner up that year either FYI.

36

What??

“I don’t think anyone in the history of the sport could have asked for a better opportunity that Mark has gotten and delivered so little.”

Are you serious? Do you actually think that?

Mark has never had it easy in his career and he was definitely ‘handed’ his opportunity at Red Bull.

Take a look at his career path into F1. He worked hard through sports cars and lower formulas and before earning a seat with a minnow and proving himself a worthy F1 driver..

Say what you want about Mark and his troubles in the past few seasons, but ever don’t talk bollocks about him being handed an opportunity … then imply he’s wasting it.

Nothing Mark has achieved in F1 has come easy. He has worked hard for years and earned is place in a Newey-built car.

37
Scuderia McLaren

Sam, they have ALL got a “worked hard to get to F1”, story. Maybe with the exception of Hamilton, who did get and continued to earn very valuable McLaren support.

To answer your questions. Yes, I am serious. Yes, I do think that. I have studied his career leading into F1, and many, many other current and past drivers. Mark is not a “winner”. Not someone who, when the chips are down, and the trophy is there for the taking, can hack the heat or stand the pressure. He is a hard worker, (despite media BS they all are), and very fast (despite media BS, many are), but only a few have that X factor. The best cars should be reserved for those people.

Nine wins and no runner ups, let alone WDC’s on the back of having had, on average, the BEST car for four years does not indicate a winner but someone who on occasion has a good day. Like his junior career. Soon after next year he is likely to have had the best car for half a decade, yes HALF a DECADE and he might break into double figure wins.

He clearly learned to drive fast. He just never learned to be a winner. 6th place in WDC is testament to that. He does not have, or do, what it take to take gold (metaphorically speaking). This is clear also in his jr career. Perhaps he should have stayed in a jr formula for more than a single year instead of moving up based on a race win or two. He needed to win it. To prove he can win, not just prove he was fast enough to move up. There is value in learning to win at a young age.

I am sorry if this offends you, but it is how I see it. Very, very few drivers have had the benefit of what is likely to be half a decade of a dominant or near dominant cars. He has severely under delivered, but no more than he has done his whole career. His early F1 years were simply against terrible or retiring drivers.

38

Mark Webber

F1 wins = 9

F1 points = 848.5

Helmut Marko

F1 wins = 0

F1 points = 0

(best finish driving for a team where his team-mates won races = 8th)

Nuff said.

39

Helmut had a rather serious injury while racing that cut short his career. Look it up on Wikipedia.

40

Not a large sample size, don’t you think. He did win Le Mans and considering his career was cut short, his F1 stats should not be held up as a sign he had no talent.

In any case he has as much right to criticize a driver as any journalist or fan

41

webber is a world class F1 driver. horner said so. webber had the temerity to try and win the brazilian GP. errrr isn’t that what he is employed to do, race cars and try to win?

i was just so disappointed that webber did not move to ferrari. there is absolutely no way that webber would ever be allowed to win whilst he is at RBR. it is not in the script and never will be.

42

The wise old man taken out of mothballs by Mateschitz gets paid for saying lots of irritating stuff. And he always makes them with a cool head, never in the heat of the moment.

I am sure it is part of a strategy by Red Bull to push some competitors into suicide.

But then, apparently he does not decide anything, because judging from his comments about Mark one must suppose that Dr Helmut would have sacked him long ago.

43

Marko has “given” us Vettel. That’s it. All he has to show for HIS time in F1. Even Peter Sauber with less money and without all the hoo-hah is more successful at finding and signing rare talent.

Marko is a chop. All he’s managing to do is get Webber even more fired up, demotivating one side of the garage and make Vettel even less popular with die hard racing fans.

We want to see someone win cause he raced the wheels off his car and beat everyone fair and square. Not because some chop with a mic knocked his team mate.

Give us Senna. Give us Kobayashi and Montoya (wasn’t a fan but had respect for his no bs approach to F1 politics) give us real people.

Guys who get upset and sad and ecstatic…

Vettel seems like a cool guy, but Silverstone 2010 and he lost me forever.

44

It can be much more here in play than just some talk about driver abilities.

Mark is very good driver. But to be a champion, you need a little bit luck,… but first you have to have dying wish for that extra inch that your mind says you don`t need. Wins that person, who`s got more these inches. Usually just good drivers don`t even know, that these inches exists.

Mark stands for a justice. He does not like to lie or do something that compromises he`s believes. He is honest and treats people in that manner. It creates a positive surroundings. Adding, that Mateschitz respects Mark so much, to keep him in, it can be more than just Mark`s driving, that Marko means by saying those things.

Basically he says, Mark can not be trust, he`s judgment abilities , when times are tough, are poor, he does not have what it takes to stand by the team, to sacrifice oneself.

To me, Marko takes actions to prevent Mark taking his job or job that is higher than hes.

45

Seems many people are blinded by Nationalism and Polemics, Webber is a second rate driver, as with many, occasionally fast, often just off the pace, this does not win F1 WDCs.

What Webber did in Interlagos was inexcusable, he almost singlehandedly ruined Vettel’s glorious comeback against the unpleasant and undeserving alonso with crass aggressiveness. In fact was it even that, he seems to deliberately try to ram Seb off the track and cheat him.

If I ran a team and a driver did that to a teamamte about to win a WDC I would sack him on the spot and take him out the back for a one to one discussion “Queensbury style”.

46

Would you like a box of tissues now?

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