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When Helmut Marko lost his one eye and saw an abrupt end to his F1 career

Samriddhi Jaiswal
|Thu Sep 22 2022

Helmut Marko once had a bright future as an F1 driver but suffered a painful end to his career in the 1972 Franch Grand Prix.

Helmut Marko, now the Red Bull advisor, was once a talented racing driver. It has been 50 years since a painful accident brought an abrupt end to his career.

In the 1972 world championship season, Marko took a seat next to fellow Austrian driver Niki Lauda in BRM. Until then, Marko’s glory came from endurance racing. He had won the 24 hours of Le Mans twice consecutively.

But in the 1972 French grand Prix, when Marko was storming at the Circuit de Charade in Clermont-Ferrand, he was hit by a stone that came towards him from Ronnie Peterson’s March Engineering.

The stone flew towards him and went right through his visor and into his left eye. Marko was able to stop his car in time to prevent any other horrendous accident as he was leading a pack of 20 cars behind him.

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Helmut Marko reoriented his life

At that moment, the Austrian lost consciousness and was taken to a medical centre where the doctor was unavailable.

The longer the wait went, the chances of recovery grew meagre. Marko was transferred to Graz with both eyes bandaged, and after weeks of pain, he realised he would not be able to race again as his eyes could not be saved.

As soon as the Austrian realised the condition of his eyes, he started to reorient his life. He became the manager of drivers Gerhard Berger and Karl Wendlinger for some years.

Then he started his team RSM Marko, which competed in Formula 3 and Formula 3000 before turning into the Red Bull junior team in 1999.

Now, Marko’s contribution to the sport comes from being the advisor of the Red Bull team and overseeing Red Bull’s development programme. He has also found two world champions from the junior programmes, 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and the reigning champion Max Verstappen.

Also Read: Former Red Bull pupil reveals his traumatic F1 nightmares

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