Helmut Marko reminiscences the fatal accident bringing an end to his promising F1 career 50 years ago

Back in the day when Helmut Marko was in the racing grid.

Helmut Marko during his racing days
Helmut Marko during his racing days

Helmut Marko today is known primarily as a technical advisor to Red Bull, but years ago that was not the scene. The Austrian had his grip over the steering wheel, and he not only raced in F1, but also in F2 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He finished 3rd in the 1970 season of Le Mans, and won the 1971 season; both with Martini International Racing Team. He DNFd in the 1972 season, but by then, he was also a driver in Formula 1 (1971). Although he did not win or score any points in his short F1 career, he knew a lot about the car, and the reason why he could not score points is heartbreaking.

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He used to race with another Austrian racing legend, Niki Lauda, but tragedy struck 50 years back, on the 25th of June, he completed his final race, because a week later, at the French Grand Prix, a tragedy struck and he couldn’t complete that race. A stone launched from Ronnie Peterson’s March, which flew and hit the eye of Helmut Marko; it went through the visor and hit his left eye, he was able to stop the car on time. 

The Austrian was briefly unconscious, and he had both his eyes bandaged for a few weeks.

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Helmut Marko had immensely painful weeks during his recovery

Helmut Marko in his BRM
Helmut Marko in his BRM

The journey to his eye recovery was filled with pain, and later, his left eye couldn’t be saved, and that was the time, he realized that he won’t be able to race again. “Once I realised that, I started to reorient my life,” GPBlog quoted the Austrian. 

Of course, he regained his opportunities on the race track with Red Bull, making Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen the World Champions. “You can’t compare, but of course they give a certain satisfaction. As a driver it would be completely different, but the successes are in the same sport,” Marko concluded.

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