Nov.15 (GMM) Dr Helmut Marko says he is reserving his judgement about the success or failure of Formula 1’s unique, billion-dollar Las Vegas adventure.
It was Bernie Ecclestone who initially took the sport to the vibrant American gambling capital way back in 1981, but the race itself was a flop – taking place in the unsuitable carpark of the Caesars Palace casino.
And in the current day, the 92-year-old is no supporter of new F1 owner Liberty Media’s ambitious and glitzy new Las Vegas GP, declaring recently that it “has nothing to do with Formula 1”.
He also told Reuters this week: “I hope it’s a success but I’m not sure it’s long term.”
Indeed, despite Liberty’s ambition, the new event is already highly controversial due to its local disruption and out-of-reach prices for the ordinary public.
When asked if the dead centre of a glittering American metropolis like Las Vegas is the right place for a serious sport like Formula 1, Red Bull team consultant Dr Marko isn’t sure.
“I’m the wrong person to ask about that,” he told Osterreich newspaper.
“But we have to give the event with all of its glamour a chance. I’ll look at the whole thing first and give you my opinion later.
“I will allow myself to be surprised,” the 80-year-old former F1 driver added. “Everything is new, like the logistics – we walk to the paddock and so on. And no one knows how the low temperatures will affect things.”
According to the weather forecasts, it will be about 10 degrees C for the late-night qualifying session and grand prix – higher than was initially feared.
“That’s still cold,” Marko insists. “It hasn’t been that cold at any grand prix this year. These are completely new conditions for the setup and so on.”
As for the track layout, Marko says it appears to be “similar to Baku”.
“I’m curious to see how the long straights will play out in reality,” said the Austrian. “And since there are no support races, we can expect significant track evolution.”
Meanwhile, in the wake of an ultra-tense period for Sergio Perez, Marko thinks the pressure is now easing off the Mexican’s shoulders – even though his second place in the championship is still under threat from Lewis Hamilton.
“Checo is 32 points ahead of Hamilton,” Marko said. “That should be enough.”
Marko was also asked about the signing of promising Danish-German 19-year-old Oliver Goethe to Red Bull’s famous driver development program.
“Good name, good guy,” Marko said. “A German who lives in London and Monte Carlo. He was fast in the tests, next year he has to prove himself in Formula 3.”
He played down the obvious comparisons to Sebastian Vettel or Max Verstappen, though.
“He has a certain boldness,” Marko admitted. “But I’ve given up on looking for a new Verstappen, because there’s no such thing.
“I’ll be happy if we just find a future grand prix winner.”