The allegations that Mad Dog Helmut Marko ever fed students of the Red Bull Drivers Academy with tins of dog food are categorically false. We made the banner headlines up in order to path a Segway into a particular narrative. Like all respectable journalists, we were simply doing our duty and hiding behind the freedom of speech placard to facilitate a ridiculous lie. You see, Mad Dog Marko, aka Dr. Mad Dog Helmut Marko, is a kind-of professional hench-man. The Red Bull drivers academy is an ultra-competitive and highly successful driver development program. It is designed to find the future F1 talent of tomorrow. Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, and Max Verstappen are star examples who graduated from the program.
Mad Dog Marko’s role is similar to that of an out of touch svengali. The 77-year-old is head of Red Bull’s driver development. He is corporate ax-man felling any driver who fails to live up to his high expectations. Many academy driver graduates have made it into Formula One, only a few survive. F1 is the ultimate test, but nothing compared to the Mad Dog’s bark and his iron fist of impatience.
Mad Dog Marko is not shy of piling on the pressure if inconsistency becomes consistent. And now the henchman of the F1 paddock is piling on the pressure onto another Red Bull academy graduate, Daniil Kvyat. The Alpha Tauri driver has been driving consistently inconsistently of late. Mad Dog Marko is starting to bark and bite his disapproval, however, he denied Kvyat’s seat is under threat:
“Yes, Daniil does not perform as we expected,” said Mad Dog Marko. “But we are still just before half-time.”
Red Bull has a pool of driving talent to cherry-pick from. Lucas Auer is one name being thrown around. The Austrian is currently competing in DTM. Or Red Bull could opt for the Formula 2 driver Yuki Tsunoda, which would please engine partner Honda very much. Another rumored replacement for Kvyat is Formula 3 driver Liam Lawson. None have a super license, therefore, disqualifying them from entering F1… for now.
However, the Mad Dog was certain Kvyatt’s Alpha Tauri seat was not up for grabs:
“…but we are not thinking of exchanging Kvyat.” claimed the Mad Dog.
The problem here is that Red Bull has too much control over the driver market. Those competing in the junior formulas get captured and enslaved into these driving internment academies. They also get drilled into behaving a certain way and are traded like commodities and sold like slaves. A can of dog food has more value. Yet the Red Bull driver academy has paid off, this cannot be denied. But at what cost?
But imagine a young kid who dreams of entering the Red Bull Driver Academy before ever thinking of Formula 1. In Mad Dog Marko, it’s rather ironic that Red Bull chose (outwardly) the worst human being to find the best driver talent out there. One understands Mad Dog’s job is not to be nice, his role is more akin to a cat stroking, hedgehog killing Bond villain with a tragic backstory. But if the system ain’t broke why fix it?