Who better than Dr. Helmut Marko to narrate Red Bull’s origins in Formula 1 – from a team/driver sponsor to owning a Formula 1 team and then owning two! From participating in races to claiming pole positions and races wins – and then of course, World Championships.
In this episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Dr. Helmut Marko joins Soumil Arora and Kunal Shah for an in-depth conversation around Red Bull Racing, Red Bull Junior Team, his conversations with Dietrich Mateschitz, his love for art and more.
We talk about Red Bull Racing’s successes with Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and dissect just how Helmut Marko assess driver talent – how much of it is instinct and how much is data and so on.
(Season 2023, Episode 31)
Image courtesy: Red Bull Content Pool
Headline quotes from Helmut Marko-Inside Line F1 Podcast
Helmut Marko – Dietrich Mateschitz on buying Jaguar Racing
“Mr. Mateschitz decided to buy Jaguar Racing, which was a not very successful midfield team, I told him there is a possibility to buy this team. We were sponsoring (Christian) Klien at Jaguar and through the negotiations it was obvious that the whole team was for sale. So I said, let’s try to do it, maybe we win a Grand Prix. That was the approach, how we went into it,” said Marko.
Karl Weldinger, Helmut Marko & Dietrich Mateschitz – how Red Bull’s F1 association started
“He was in Graz, where I live and he stayed in the Schlossberg Hotel and we had the presentation of Karl Wendlinger’s F3 outfit. And there the discussion started. Yes, but then in the end the talk was about why couldn’t we do something together?”
“It’s a little bit weird (about an energy drinks company owning a Formula 1 team), yes, I agree, but we have to come further back. St. Marijn in Myrnstal, that’s the place where Mateschitz lived, is very near to a hill climb place, which is called Alp L’Orace, and in the early 60s Jochen Rindt, the first Austrian world champion raced, and Mateschitz watched this race. And there were also little ice races, you know, in winter, when the fields were frozen, and ski areas with spikes and things like that.”
“So there was already a passion which was in Mr. Mateschitz’s mind, or however you say, and when his company was getting successful. He was of course always a fan of extreme sports and so motor racing was a clear good opportunity to place the product placement. And then there was a lot of passion, but the main thing we both had the passion, the passion for motor racing. And that went through all the development. It was always a passion which was… driving him, was driving me, and we wanted success. But not success, but our circumstances.”
Porsche discussions with Dietrich Mateschitz
“The longest meeting was when there was a plan to cooperate with Porsche. it was a brilliant idea for marketing. Both brands are really big and from a marketing point of view would have been. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and that had been the longest discussions I have had with him.”
The origins of the Red Bull Junior Driver program or Red Bull Academy
“Mr. Mateschitz is from the same area in Styria, very near to the Red Bull Ring, so there was a connection and I don’t know exactly how it happened, but motor racing is expensive. So Mr. Matyshitzek said, let’s do something for the young people so they can afford this sport.”
“That’s why we started the Red Bull Junior Team, and it was mainly to support young drivers. But when first Red Bull bought Jaguar and a little bit later Minardi, the approach was a different one. We said, okay, now we have to have a goal and the goal is we must find drivers who can win a Grand Prix.”
“Not only is it that we support them to win a Grand Prix. To win a Grand Prix is a criteria. To win a championship you never can predict. It’s depending on the whole package. how good is your chassis, how good is the engine, how strong is the driver. But that was the aim. So we changed the approach. We were going for more performance and if the people didn’t perform we had to stop our support.”
Vitantonio Liuzzi – first-ever Red Bull Junior Team driver
“He won the European F3000 championship and he obviously had a lot of speed, a lot of talent, but in the end it didn’t work out.”
Failing in Formula 1, Succeeding in other Motorsport
“Speed alone, talent alone is not enough. You have to be a hard worker. commit yourself 110 percent. So we had a lot of talents and I have to say even though I would say 98 percent of the drivers which didn’t make it to Formula One, they are now in categories like sports car, Formula E or GT.”
“They do what they love and they earn money. And most of them are earning more money what they could earn in a normal job, you know, daily job. So… Even so, not everybody, only a few made it to Formula One.”
“It was a very good education and it was the start for a career which you couldn’t have done without Red Bull. And you know, basically it’s called Red Bull Junior Team. It’s just a Red Bull Academy because now so many others are establishing academies, so we also have this name now.”
David Coulthard & Mark Webber for Red Bull Racing
“In the beginning, yes, we got established drivers like David Coulthard and then Mark Webber, but it was clear we wanted to have the success with our young drivers, which we found and which we were bringing through the ranks up to Formula 1.”
Helmut Marko on starting RSM Marko in the 80s and 90s
“I think I started the team because of the Austrian drivers that didn’t have the budget. you need for a top team, so I said, okay, let’s do it ourselves. And it started with Berger, it started with Müller, it started with Wendlinger. So, yeah, it’s so long ago, I don’t know all these details anymore. But it all helped to get this success because it was experience, very good experience, so all this knowledge was brought into the Red Bull projects.”