Sunday, 13 January 2013

Where Do Helmut Marko's Loyalties Lie?

Helmut Marko has been busy casting his spell for Red Bull achievement in 2013.  But could stirring a splash of mind games, together with a dash of negativity into his cauldron make his recipe for success go slightly awry? 

“It seems to me that Webber has on average two races per year where he is unbeatable, but he can’t maintain this form throughout the year,” Helmut Marko told Red Bull’s own publication, Red Bulletin.

He added, “As soon as his prospects start to look good in the World Championship, he has a little trouble with the pressure that this creates.  In comparison with Seb’s rising form, it seems to me that Mark’s form somehow flattens out.”

Helmut Marko and Mark Webber

The difference in performance between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel during the first half of the season was minimal, with the lead in the World Championship bouncing back and forth between the two.   Webber’s fourth place at his home Grand Prix meant that he started the season six points behind second placed Vettel.   The German’s now infamous ‘cucumber’ incident with Narain Kartikeyan in Malaysia resulted in the tables being turned as Mark usurped the six point lead. The gap was extended to eight points in China as Webber and Vettel collected fourth and fifth places respectively.  Taking victory in Bahrain enabled Seb to recover and go five points clear of his team mate, a gap further extended to twelve points in Barcelona.  Another win for Webber in Monaco, followed by a fourth in Valencia and his second victory of the season at Silverstone, saw him shoot up to second in the table, sixteen points ahead of Vettel.  This lead was reduced to two points at Hockenhiem, a difference maintained going into the mid season break after Hungary.  Monza saw the lead bounce back in Sebastian Vettel’s favour, and from Singapore his onslaught began.  Helmut Marko remarked,

 “After the summer break, his performance curve shoots up.  That’s what happened in previous years, too.  I don’t know how he does it.” 

I wonder whether Vettel’s ‘rising form’ could have been attributable to the developments made on the car.  For Singapore, a new double DRS system was introduced resulting in the RB8 showing performance akin to the championship winning RB7.  Having similar characteristics and form to the car that facilitated the German’s runaway success in 2011, brought an inevitability that Seb would stretch and elongate his lead over his team mate during the second half of the season.  It is interesting that the rise in Vettel’s form should coincide with a significant development on the car making it the one to beat on the grid, but when the car was uncompetitive the performance between himself and Mark Webber was equally balanced.

Helmut Marko and Sebastian Vettel have a close relationship

If Webber is prone to underperforming under pressure, is the Red Bull Team Advisor airing his thoughts about his abilities publicly, the most effectual route to take in managing the situation?    The comments will be taken one of two ways, it could serve to make Mark more determined, but could equally damage confidence.  Would you run the risk of the latter happening when you are reliant on him for points in order to secure a fourth consecutive Constructors Championship?  
Where do Helmut Marko’s loyalties lie?  With Sebastian Vettel or Red Bull as a whole?  They don’t appear to be gravitating towards Red bull.  Overseeing the Red Bull development programme nurturing young drivers means he clearly has interests that don’t involve Mark Webber.  Is he trying to ensure the Australian looks elsewhere for a drive for 2014, leaving the way open to inject more home grown talent into the team alongside Vettel?  This may be his wish, but if he continues to wave his wand of negativity it could be at the cost of a fourth constructors crown. 

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