Helmut Marko is a highly controversial figure within Formula 1 and it appears Christian Horner has finally had enough of the outspoken Austrian at Red Bull.
Horner wants to move the 80-year-old on as he assumes more control of the racing team following the death of the founder, Dietrich Mateschitz, in October 2022.
Marko and Horner have seemed to fail to align with their views since the passing of Mateschitz, with the former wanting Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri and regularly calling for Red Bull to abandon Sergio Perez, whilst the latter holds the polar opposite positions.
Leading Brazilian newspaper Jornal O Globo report there is further division concerning the future of Yuki Tsunoda and the team’s connection with Honda as a power-unit manufacturer.
Marko would prefer Red Bull to toe the line to avoid aggravating Honda, who will become rivals from 2026 when they partner with Aston Martin. As of the 2023 United States GP, the two companies do not talk to each other about the nature of Red Bull‘s engine, which is dealt with by Honda representatives.
Therefore, Marko does not want to irritate the people who have such significant control over performance. On the other hand, Horner did not even want to confirm Tsunoda for 2024 and refused to publicly do so as Red Bull and AlphaTauri evaluated Daniel Ricciardo and Liam Lawson against the 23-year-old.
Marko’s comments prove to be a friction point
Another point of tension is the controversies caused in the media by Marko and his xenophobic and racist comments towards Perez. Scandal erupted earlier in September 2023 when the Austrian suggested that the ‘South American’ lacked the focus of his European rivals, despite Perez being North American, and there being no strong, supporting evidence that concentration levels differ by ethnicity.
The result led to Marko, and by extension Red Bull, being slammed in the media and by fans of the sport. This prompted Horner to have a headache to encounter at the next race weekend in Singapore, which he tried to navigate by pointing out Marko isn’t employed by the racing team and is simply a consultant – a deflection strategy itself that was also criticised by fans for avoiding the issue and hiding.
“Well firstly, those comments, they weren’t right,” Horner had said to media. “I think Helmut quickly recognised that and apologised for that both publicly and spoke directly to Sergio about it.
“I think you’re always learning in life, even at 80 years of age, and I think inevitably lessons have been learned. From Helmut’s perspective, he’s apologised. He’s not an employee of Red Bull Racing.
“So in terms of why didn’t we put out a statement, he’s part of the Red Bull wider group, and the group obviously issued that apology through through the Servus TV channel.”