Why Helmut Marko is the best motorsport talent spotter

Helmut Marko has been Red Bull's lead advisor since the Formula 1 team formed in 2005


Helmut Marko is known for his cold ruthlessness to his drivers, as his highly-demanding program sees only the most mentally resilient competitors survive. It would appear that he is working his magic again as Daniel Ricciardo immediately rewarded AlphaTauri with competitiveness at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo replaced Nyck de Vries after just 10 races into the latter’s F1 career, ahead of the Hungarian GP.

The Formula 2 and Formula E champion had not scored a single point, and had been more than comprehensible beaten by his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda.

As a result Marko, the man who oversees which drivers are at Red Bull‘s sister team, wasted no time in dropping De Vries for Ricciardo following a successful test after the British GP.

The Australian out-qualified and out-raced Tsunoda in his first appearance of 2023, as he started 13th on the grid and finished 13th, despite being hit at the start of the race. Ricciardo will allow Red Bull analyse where Tsunoda is at against a strong benchmark.

Whilst simultaneously allowing Liam Lawson to continue to flourish in Super Formula, where the 21-year-old New Zealander is currently second in the standings and just one point behind the leader Ritomo Miyata.

Likewise, the presence of Ricciardo is a warning to Sergio Perez that Red Bull does have alternatives to the Mexican.

It would appear that Perez has, in the famous words of Rob Smedley, confirmed that he understood the message, as he reached Q3 for the first time since the Miami GP and eventually finished on the podium.

Therefore it would appear that Marko‘s excellent judgement is proving itself to be working again.

Sergio Perez of Red Bull ahead of 2023 Belgian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The best recruiter in the history of sports?

Marko has a phenomenal CV as far as getting drivers to F1 goes. He has helped 16 drivers get to the top-class of motorsport, with the two stars in his portfolio being Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.

Between them, the pair have won 98 races, six world championships, 85 pole positions and have stood on the podium 211 times.

Five of his drivers have gone on to win F1 races once Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly bringing their total to 107 wins, whilst the cult-hero racer Juan Pablo Montoya also credits Marko for improving his talent.

His eye for talent shows no sign of slowing down, as he is nurturing highly-rated youth prospects such as Lawson, Ayumu Iwasa, Dennis Hauger and Isack Hadjar are all in Formula 2 – the final step before F1.

Liam Lawson puts a thumb up to the crowd at the Belgian GP | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Likely the greatest recruiter in F1 history, does Marko rank above the best talent-spotters in the history of sports?

His portfolio is inarguable and only appears to grow stronger as Verstappen continues to dominate one of the most physically-demanding sports in the world. By the time the Dutchman is done, Marko will have two greatest of all-time candidates to his name. Can you think of a better scout? I cannot.

Will De Vries be back soon?

De Vries‘s manager, Guillaume Le Goff has revealed that the Dutch driver has been getting phone calls for a return to racing, and that F1 is not off the table.

Despite his F1 career being brutally ended, De Vries‘ manager has said that the stock of his client is still high and that he could even return to the sport in the future.

“There is plenty of interest in Nyck,” Le Goff said to formule1.nl. “I’ve had quite a few calls. “Endurance, Le Mans, GTs, Formula E, also Formula 1. We’ll see.”

Former AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries look on | Peter Fox/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Where is the next F1 2023 race?

F1 will return from its summer break with the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix from Zandvoort  on August 25-27, where championship leader Max Verstappen will be racing on home soil.

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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