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Formula 1

Former Red Bull driver on 'non-existent' Marko relationship

Jean-Eric Vergne was a Toro Rosso driver from 2012 to 2014, but his relationship with Helmut Marko over that time wasn't always a simple one.

Marko USA 2021
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To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

Former F1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne has opened up about his hot and cold relationship with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko.

The Frenchman competed in F1 from 2012 to 2014 for Toro Rosso before becoming Ferrari's test and development driver in 2015 and 2016.

During that time Vergne worked with Marko, and in a conversation with the Beyond the Grid podcast, he explained how the two had more of a working relationship rather than a personal one.

"Pretty non-existent," Vergne answered when asked what it was like to deal with Marko on a human level. "You like Helmut, you don't like Helmut... I'm not here to be friends with him.

"It's not like I'm going to go on holiday with him, but I liked him as a boss because he always gave the driver a fair chance to succeed. Yeah, he is tough, but that's fine. The world we live in, the world of Formula 1, is a tough world. You're only as good as your last race.

"If you do a good job, if you win championships before Formula 1, he was fair, and he brought me to Formula 1. I can only thank him and for what he's done for me.

"I wish he would have done things differently, especially the third year I had with Toro Rosso, but that's the way it is. I'm happy I got to work with him and that he gave me the chances that he gave me."

Vergne explained how Marko once contacted him after a successful race weekend in a different series, only to point out he failed to register the fastest lap.

"He called at the most unusual times and I think he liked to be rough with the drivers," Vergne added. "I remember once in Magny Cours, I was the fastest but I stalled at the start. I stalled twice over the weekend and I didn't win a race.

"He was pretty pissed off with me, and I can understand [why]. The race after he told me I better win. I won the next race in Germany, and he called me but only because I didn't get the fastest lap.

"I had won the two races, and gotten two pole positions, but I didn't have the fastest lap because another driver had crashed in the middle of the race and got new tyres.

"But I had no time to explain that to him because he had already hung up."

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