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Marko’s Departure Could Signal Turmoil Ahead for Red Bull’s Sports Empire



Marko Departure Could Signal Turmoil Ahead for Red Bull Sports Empire

The 2023 Formula 1 season has started with Red Bull’s dominance, but changes within the company since the passing of co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz are becoming apparent.

Red Bull has started the 2023 Formula 1 season in a dominant fashion similar to how it finished last year, and possibly even more dominant. However, the changes happening within the wider company following the passing of co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz in autumn last year are starting to show their effects.

After the passing of Mateschitz, his former role was divided into three, and Oliver Mintzlaff was promoted from his position as chief executive of Red Bull’s RB Leipzig football club to a new role as ‘chief executive of corporate projects and investments.’ This new role includes overseeing all of the company’s media and sports projects, including the F1 teams.

Rumours quickly surfaced that Mintzlaff, who is pictured below with team boss Christian Horner, lacks a strong connection with motorsport and has a strained relationship with Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko.

Recently, some frank comments were published on Red Bull Media House’s Speedweek website, which made it apparent that Helmut Marko has strong opinions regarding Mintzlaff’s leadership. The fact that these comments were published on Red Bull Media House’s own website is quite surprising.

Marko’s comments were quite direct and blunt. He stated that he has only met with Mintzlaff twice and that it remains to be seen how receptive Mintzlaff will be to their ideas. He also mentioned that Red Bull Racing has always been quite autonomous, and the personal and friendly relationship that he had with Mateschitz is no longer there.

Marko also remarked that Mateschitz was a visionary and had emotions, but he doesn’t see that in Mintzlaff. He further added that he is a free person and can choose to leave if he no longer enjoys his work. The future remains to be seen.

Marko's Departure Could Signal

Marko has played a crucial and influential role in Red Bull’s success in motorsports. His position can be compared to Niki Lauda’s former role at Mercedes, but it was less formal. Marko’s power came directly from his friendship with Mateschitz, which began when Mateschitz approached him as a fan at a hillclimb event while Marko was still competing.

Mateschitz was drawn to Marko because of his close friendship with Jochen Rindt, who was the posthumous 1970 Formula 1 champion and someone that Mateschitz idolized. This friendship led to Marko becoming a vital member of Red Bull’s motorsport team.

Marko’s relationship with Mateschitz was unique, as he did not report to anyone but Mateschitz, and even then, he was more like a close friend than an employee. This status allowed Marko to make pivotal decisions that contributed significantly to Red Bull’s success in motorsports.

Marko played a crucial role in bringing together Mateschitz and Horner. This happened after Horner purchased the assets of Marko’s RSM Marko Formula 3000 team in the late 1990s. This move eventually led to Horner becoming the team principal of Red Bull Racing, which has gone on to become one of the most successful teams in Formula 1 history.

Marko had the freedom to make independent decisions about who to bring into or remove from Red Bull’s junior driver program. He played a significant role in recruiting Max Verstappen and promoting him to Red Bull’s senior Formula 1 team in the middle of the season. Marko was the driving force behind this decision.

Marko's Departure Could Signal

Marko’s accomplishments for Red Bull are undoubtedly significant, but his position as a separate entity within the company, with his direct line to Mateschitz alone, may make him a less natural fit for a company that is now transitioning into a more traditional corporate structure. Additionally, Horner does not have any control over Marko, and Marko has always been outspoken and unafraid to make controversial statements that could potentially stir up controversy.

In the post-Mateschitz era, accountability is likely to become a more critical issue for Red Bull. Marko has never been answerable to anyone in his life, and at 80 years old, he may not be inclined to start now. Marko is highly cultured and an art collector, which indicates that he may not be enthusiastic about switching to a more traditional corporate structure at this point.


Despite the efforts to emphasize that it would be “business as usual” for the Red Bull empire after Mateschitz’s passing, it was always unlikely that everything would remain the same. Red Bull’s range of businesses and projects is too diverse and unconventional for that to be the case.

Marko's Departure Could Signal

Becoming a leader in a highly competitive market is one thing, but creating an extensive empire of extreme and world championship sports, media businesses, and becoming a world-leader in some of those fields is truly unique. Mateschitz had the vision to make all of this possible, and that makes him irreplaceable.

This also means that every part of the Mateschitz Red Bull world – from business divisions to individual senior personnel – will want to justify their existence and secure their position in the new Red Bull world, despite reassurances that they don’t need to. This desire to consolidate their position can create the possibility of division and instability within the company.

Marko's Departure Could Signal

The recent rumors of a potential sale or relocation for AlphaTauri likely came from someone within the Red Bull F1 stable. This individual may have believed that the best way to prevent this controversial and unpopular idea would be to bring it out in the open and put pressure on it.

Despite winning titles and having one of the greatest drivers of the era signed up for the long term, as well as securing Ford as a partner for the new F1 rules, Red Bull Racing looks invincible on the grand prix grid and within Red Bull’s internal situation.

However, one of the most crucial figures behind Red Bull’s success, Marko, may not be part of the story for much longer. If this is the case, it’s likely that he will exit on his own terms.

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