Helmut Marko's driving ambition

© F1-Photo.com / Cahier Archive

These days the name of Helmut Marko is synonymous with Red Bull Racing. He's the team's motorsports advisor and oversees their driver development programme which has nurtured the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.

But in his youth, Marko was himself a very promising motor racing talent. Born in Graz, Austria, Marko was a school friend of 1970 world champion Jochen Rindt. Marko himself took part in nine Grand prix races in 1971 and 1972, competing for the BRM non-works McLaren.

One of the races he competed in was the Monaco Grand Prix, pictured above. He finished in eighth place, his best result in Formula 1.

Unfortunately Marko's time behind the wheel ended prematurely just a few weeks later. On this day in 1972 he was taking part in the French Grand Prix at the Charade Circuit in Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne. He was in fifth place when a stone was kicked up by the Lotus of Emerson Fitipaldi ahead of him. It penetrated his helmet visor and blinded him in the left eye, ending his motor racing career.

The race itself was won by Jackie Stewart for Tyrell-Ford, with Fitipaldi finishing in second place. Joining them on the podium was Matra's Chris Amon. The rocky circuit meant that ten cars suffered punctures. As a result, the French Grand Prix was moved to the new Paul Ricard Circuit in 1973. Formula 1 will be back there again in 2018 for the first French Grand prix since 2008 when the event was last held at Magny-Cours.

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