Helmut Marko denies wanting to 'deliberately' infect Red Bull drivers with Covic-19

 Red Bull's Helmut Marko. Image: AFP / Lars Baron
Red Bull's Helmut Marko. Image: AFP / Lars Baron
Lars Baron

Dr Helmut Marko has denied reports that he wanted Red Bull's racing drivers to be "deliberately" infected with coronavirus.

The energy drink company's top motorsport chief caused a stir with comments he made recently to the Austrian broadcaster ORF.

He suggested drivers including Max Verstappen and Alex Albon should attend a training camp during the global shutdown and it would be "ideal" if they were infected with coronavirus to become immune.

But Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner told the BBC it was a "throwaway comment before understanding the seriousness of the pandemic".

Horner said: "It has never been discussed or tabled as a serious suggestion."

On Twitter, former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa called Marko's proposal "completely insane".

Not deliberate

But like Horner, Marko has also clarified his comments. He tells Auto Bild that it is "of course not true" that he wanted Red Bull's drivers to be knowingly infected with Covid-19.

The 76-year-old said: "It wasn't about deliberately infecting anybody."

READ: Marko scolded for 'playing with human lives'

Marko believes he survived a coronavirus infection in February, saying: "If people my age - the highest risk group of all - can survive this disease, then you can certainly say that young athletes like our racing drivers should at least be less afraid of the consequences. That was the only reason why we considered organising the training camp despite the danger from the virus.

"There was never any talk of deliberate infection."

The plain-speaking Austrian says the media has become "overwhelmed" by constant coverage of the pandemic.

He said: "Television, radio, newspapers - it's all about the virus. Of course you have to be careful and try to get the pandemic under control as quickly as possible. But please, with a sense of proportion."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Brought to you by
Voting Booth
Who do you feel was at fault for Verstappen and Hamilton's Italian GP crash?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
25% - 1212 votes
42% - 2013 votes
They were both at fault
33% - 1579 votes