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Helmut Marko

Vergne recalls tough love from Marko as Red Bull junior

Prolific character in the Formula 1 paddock, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko turns 80 today. A great milestone for the Austrian, who's established himself as one of the most prominent people in motorsport. RacingNews365 speaks to former Red Bull junior Jean-Eric Vergne about his experiences with the tough driver mentor.

Vergne Marko 2014
Interview
To news overview © XPBimages

Jean-Eric Vergne drove his final race in Formula 1 with Red Bull sister team Toro Rosso in 2014, before being replaced by none other than Max Verstappen.

It turned out to be an important step for both drivers, as it kickstarted the career of the now-two time F1 World Champion and enabled Vergne to pursue other opportunities - himself becoming a two-time Formula E World Champion and successful sportscar driver.

The man pulling the strings in the background was Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, who made the controversial decision to install the 17 year-old Verstappen in favour of Vergne. But it was those days in Toro Rosso that enabled the Frenchman that laid the foundation for his success elsewhere.

Vergne speaks exclusively to RacingNews365 about his days as a Red Bull junior under the supervision of the tough Austrian.

"It's fair to say that Red Bull and him gave me an amazing chance that not many people give to young drivers; to achieve F1. Today I have the career I have thanks to thanks to Red Bull," he said.

In the 2010 season Vergne drove as part of the Red Bull Junior Team in British Formula 3 with Carlin, winning 13 out of the 30 races on his way to the championship.

Although it looks like an impressive win record, he still had his moments with Marko during the season.

"I remember one day he was quite pissed off in Formula Three because I stalled at the start when I was on pole, so I didn't win that race," he recalls.

"The next race was Hockenheim and they told me I better win the race. So I won the two races.

"The second race I won I didn't set the fastest lap and he called me on my way back home when I was in the car and it was very angry at me because I didn't do the fastest lap.

"He said 'This is unacceptable!' And I didn't have time to explain to him that the driver who had the fastest lap actually broke the front wing at the start, pitted for new tyres and set the fastest lap - he already hung up!"

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