#F1 Features: ‘Two out of three ain’t bad’

Brought to you by TheJudge13 reporter Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)

Here at TJ13 we like to give credit where we feel it is due and not just focus on the negative all the time. There are many teams and Formula One related people who headed into the summer less than satisfied.  Dr Helmut Marko was not such a person.

The start of something special

The remarkable rise of Red Bull racing is undeniably the most impressive evolution of a team in recent Formula One.  The Milton Keynes team rose from the ashes of the Jaguar racing car crash, into the four-time World Champion team that still fights at the front of the grid, despite the mediocre Renault powertrain sitting behind the drivers.

Dietrich Mateschitz had been a long-time supporter of Formula One before moving into team ownership, having sponsored drivers and teams since the early 90s.  His net worth standing at an estimated $8.8 billion (Forbes), the high spending of Formula One was hardly going to be a bridge too far for the Austrian with Ford selling the team for only $1 along with a guarantee to invest $400 million over the next 3 seasons. One stumbling block was how a businessman be able to congeal personnel to make a successful team with little prior experience in the sport.

Enter the stage Helmut Marko, the now right hand man to the fizzy drinks magnate who has always been a protagonist in the Red Bull play.  His careful eye oversaw the development of the team from a midfield dawdling team to one that has been at the forefront of development.  He lost his other eye in the French Grand Prix, 1972, when Emerson Fittipaldi’s Lotus flicked a stone up towards his car.  The stone pierced his visor, blinding the Austrian in the process and bringing an end to his Formula One career; his best finish 8th in Monaco, although he did win the 24 hours of Le Mans (1971).

The magnate and the right hand man

The magnate and the right hand man

Having guided the Red Bull young driver programme from 1999, which produced the likes of Vettel and Montoya, Marko was entrusted with looking after the affairs of the Red Bull team from their inception in 2005.  The freedom offered to Adrian Newey and the ruthless axing of drivers meant success loomed large on the horizon for the team.  Their impact on the sport now forever in the record books, but has it all been that fair?

There have been numerous controversies involving the team over the years as well as many allegations that were never met with any concrete evidence.  The debate over the ethics of the team’s development, interpretation of the rules and racing policy can be left for another day.  This article looks at the policy of driver treatment, most notably in the sister (junior) team, Toro Rosso.

As I have already analysed previously in my article “The Toro Rosso Chainsaw Massacre”, the way Jaime Alguesuari and Sebastian Buemi were withdrawn from the team was brutal, both with the chance in the sport they received as well as the timing.  Personally, I think Alguesuari was thrust into the sport when he was too young to really expect much from him; especially given he had shown improvements in his second year. However, seeing Kvyat deliver the results at a similar age maybe the Spaniard was in fact given a fair run at the sport?

The current crop

The one-eyed Austrian Red Bull leader will be sitting very comfortably this summer break, very happy with his decisions of recent times.  Many questioned whether the double change was the right way to go when Ricciardo and Vergne arrived at the beginning of 2012, but that has proven to be a good one.  Likewise with Kvyat, many questioned why it was not Felix da Costa who took the racing seat.  Marko was confident in his choice, giving the young Russian practice sessions in Austin and Interlagos, where in Austin he performed well (Interlagos was rained out).

Ricciardo and Kvyat together in Austin, 2013

Ricciardo and Kvyat together in Austin, 2013

This was much the same for Ricciardo taking the seat at the top team instead of a range of other drivers, which had included the talismanic Finnish World Champion.  Raikkonen has struggled this year as Ricciardo has flourished, leading the best of the rest stakes into the break as the only driver to have broken the Mercedes monopoly in race wins.  Two out his last three drivers to come through the system have been a huge success.

The only slight headache for the two Red Bull teams will be the Renault powertrain which will see them at a significant disadvantage at Monza and Spa.  However, with Lotus looking set to be ushered off to Mercedes for 2015 and Caterham presumably being given the order to do as they are told, the powertrain can be tailored to the needs of the fizzy drink cars.

It would appear there is method in the madness of the man from Graz in both the berating of Renault and the rotation of drivers.  With the success his Red Bull protégés have enjoyed, he can be very content and enjoy some Meatloaf on in the background wherever he is spending his time – ‘Two out of three ain’t bad.

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