‘He always yelled that I was crazy’: Ex-F1 driver on Helmut Marko

Red Bull recently signed the son of ex-F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya, who also worked with the team's advisor before racing at the pinnacle of motorsport.

Helmut Marko and Christian Horner.v1

Ex-Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya has opened up on what Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko is like to work with, with the Colombian having raced for Marko’s team during his junior career.

Montoya is a driver who’s tasted success wherever he’s gone, with the 47-year-old having won several races in Formula 1 and in IndyCar, with the former McLaren driver having actually won the Indy 500 before moving to the pinnacle of motorsport.

Before winning one of the most famous races in motorsport, though, he competed in Formula 3000, racing for Marko’s team, RSM Marko.

Montoya recalled that Red Bull’s advisor “always yelled” but did so with the “right intentions”, with the Colombian now recognising that Marko’s questionable treatment was simply his way of “pushing me forward”.

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“It was tough at the time, but in the end he made me a better driver,” he told Motorsport.com.

“He always yelled that I had a lot of problems and that I was crazy and everything. But he did so with the right intentions. He was pushing me all the time to be a better person.

“I remember one time he invited me to have lunch at his house. I was served a salad, but I didn’t eat vegetables in those days. He then made me run back to his office. It was more than an hour of running. At the time I was very angry with him, but looking back I realise it was his way of pushing me forward.”

Interestingly, Montoya fought for the title that year and arguably would’ve won it, had the team not set-up the car “incorrectly”.

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Despite this being having happened in 1997, Montoya is convinced that Marko remains “angry” with him, due to the Austrian thinking that the driver “gave away the championship”.

Montoya went on to claim the Formula 3000 title the following season.

“He is angry with me to this day,” Montoya added.

“He thinks I deliberately let the championship run in the penultimate round in Mugello. We simply had the top gear set incorrectly. Every time I went to top gear, the engine started to stutter, because the gear was made too long.

“Jason Watt sat in front of me. I always rode towards him with playful ease, after which I seemed to pass him. But once in top gear, he drove away from me again. And so it went throughout the race. That was so frustrating. But Marko still thinks I gave away the championship.”

It appears that Montoya’s and Marko’s paths will cross once again this year, with Red Bull having signed Montoya’s son, Sebastian, to their junior programme.

The former F1 driver is hopeful that the Red Bull junior programme will work for his son but knows that ultimately “he will have to perform”.

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“Most teams give their drivers star treatment and pamper you completely,” Montoya said.

“But Helmut wants to make a man of you and believes that if you want to achieve something, you have to fight for it. I think it’s great that Sebastian has been given this opportunity. He can learn a lot there and they have a very good training program.

“Now it’s up to him. I am here for him and will give him all the help I can, but everyone knows how Red Bull works – he will have to perform. I hope it works out well for Sebastian, that he can show great things and that he can grow within Red Bull.”