Marko does an awful lot of talking for somebody who doesn’t have all that much power at Red Bull. Yes, he is the director of driver development (his official title is motorsport director), but - translated - that means he’s in charge of the minor leagues.
It's true that he can make or break the career of a young driver – as was the case with Canadian Robert Wickens, who got on well with Marko but was fired after his season in Formula 2 when he didn’t win the championship. (Jean-Eric Vergne, on the other hand, lost to Wickens in the Formula 3.5 championship but got to keep his Red Bull sponsorship and is now in F1 with Scuderia Toro Rosso, apprenticing for a chance to drive for the big team and how did that happen?)
But it's also true that Marko is not in charge of the Red Bull Formula One drivers. That is part of the job description of the team principal, Christian Horner, who decides who will drive for the team in consultation with the owner, energy drinks multimillionaire Dietrich Mateschitz.
When it comes to the team's drivers, Horner, for the most part, keeps his own counsel, as does Mateschitz. Which leaves Marko to pick up the phone and talk to the media about no more team orders and who may or may not drive for the team (Kimi Raikkonen’s name keeps popping up) and that gives everybody the impression he's an influential somebody at Red Bull when, in fact, he's not.
If Marko had the power he pretends to have, Webber would have been gone at least a year ago. But Mateschitz likes the Australian star, as does Horner, so he’s in the team and Marko’s favourites are not and that should tell everybody something.
How do I know this? I have friends in Formula One and I talk to them, or email, frequently.
And no more team orders? There will be team orders if the need arises. Trust me. Regardless of what Marko says.
Whether Vettel will obey them or not was answered Thursday in China when the three-time world champion said, in so many ways: in your dreams.
I won't repeat what he said (here's a link to the autosport.com account of the media conference) but Vettel said he'd do what he did in Malaysia again.
And to suggestions that he should have been disciplined for disobeying the order to hold station, the young German said this to the reporters:
"Maybe it is a little bit of a dreamland that you all live in, but what do you expect to happen? Make a suggestion!"
Meantime, Marko told the Red Bull corporate publication called (natch) Red Bull Magazine, that Webber couldn’t handle the pressure of a full F1 season and that’s why he’s never won the world championship. Asked about this in recent days, he told a Spanish newspaper that it was all exaggerated.
No it isn’t. I have the magazine. He said what he said.
So why’s he backtracking? Maybe somebody is mad at him.
Like the boss, Mateschitz, perhaps?
Meantime, Jean Todt says there’s too many pay drivers in F1.
It's amazing how so many people can go through life, allegedly paying attention, and then one day they open their eyes and say: Holy cow! How'd this happen?
Welcome to the real world, Jean.
The Chinese GP will be on in the middle of the night this weekend (check George’s TV Listings for Race Fans for times) but there are plenty of encore presentations of practice, qualifying and the race itself on TSN and TSN2 that should deter your need to set your recorder.