Red Bull’s Helmut Marko kicks off 2013 season with more mind games
By Berthold Bouman
Red Bull’s team advisor Dr. Helmut Marko has started the season as he usually does, playing mind games with Red Bull’s main rival Ferrari. He likes to be called Doctor, as the now 69-year old Austrian completed a doctorate in law before he started his racing career.
Marko claims Sebastian Vettel is a better driver than Fernando Alonso because the former ‘doesn’t read the newspapers’, whereas the latter is too busy with ‘politics and making funny comments’.
About Vettel’s 2012 season he said, “Sebastian’s driving was virtually flawless. But he is a phenomenon: it is always like that. After the summer break, his performance curve shoots up. That’s what happened in previous years, too. I don’t know how he does it, but to keep doing it cannot be a coincidence.”
And that is a far cry from Alonso’s way of preparing himself, Marko believes. “He [Vettel] shuts himself off from the rest of the world, so that he can still call on reserves that other drivers might not have: Fernando Alonso, for example, who is busy with politics and funny comments,” he said.
And he added, “Vettel ignores it all, he doesn’t read the newspapers, or the internet. And that’s the point, you see, we concentrate on our job: to make the fastest car and the best team possible.”
About Alonso he commented, “Alonso is constantly involved in politics. I believe we saw the stress he was under towards the end of the season. Saying things like, “I’m competing against Hamilton, not Vettel,” and “I’m up against Newey,” these psychological skirmishes. We said [to Vettel], “Just ignore him.”
Alonso, meanwhile, didn’t need much time to react on Marko’s remarks and commented on Twitter, “I enjoy reading that redbull still think we will be the strongest rival for next year! And this even before start testing!! Flattered..;)”
Marko is also still involved in playing games with the other Red Bull driver, Mark Webber. Marko has controversial methods when it comes to motivating his drivers, and he isn’t happy with the results of Webber last season, and even hinted the Australian could be dumped in 2014 if he doesn’t improve.
He insists Webber is the team’s second driver and said, “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.”
Asked whether it is better to have two arch rivals than two good buddies in one team he replied, “The important thing is that both are somewhere close in speed so that they push each other, and that the technical crews understand each car’s limits. If you have two equally strong drivers, then you know where you stand with the car. For harmony within the team it is of course easier if the two get along.”
About the current driver situation he remarked, “We have found a modus vivendi. Sebastian and Mark work constructively together in tuning the cars: all information is freely available. They are not likely to go to dinner together, but that is how it is in most teams, and it’s totally OK. Two alpha males can never really understand each other.”