After the Australian Grand Prix, the faces of the Red Bull team were still hanging in the air. Retired for the second time due to a technical problem, Verstappen finished just sixth in the championship, no less than 46 points away from leaders Charles Leclerc. How different is the situation after the race in Barcelona. After Leclerc fell from the lead, Verstappen recorded his third win in a row, which puts the Limburg native at the top of the World Cup.
“And you all said it was over for us,” Red Bull Motorsport Director Helmut Marko looks back on the reporting after the Australian Grand Prix with a broad smile. At the time, the 79-year-old Austrian said he still had faith in a good result. “I said we had enough races and would come back.”
The third win in a row came after Leclerc brought his Ferrari into the pits with an engine problem. Marko concedes Red Bull was lucky with that, but according to the ex-Formula 1 driver it’s not yet balanced in this area. When asked about the gift from Ferrari, Marko leaves, among other things Motorsport.com know: “Max dropped out twice with technical problems, so we only got half of the gift back.”
The Spanish Grand Prix was not without problems for Verstappen. The reigning world champion was swept off the track by a gust of wind in the early stages and then suffered a DRS issue which prevented him from passing George Russell. Again and again Verstappen reported on the radio to express his dissatisfaction with his faltering DRS. According to Marko, it wasn’t easy to keep the Dutchman calm back then. “But what can you do about it? You can’t explain why there’s a problem because he has to focus on driving.”
dissatisfaction with Perez
Sergio Perez made the one-two for Red Bull. During and immediately after the race, the Mexican was not happy with the team orders he received during the race. So at the end of the race he was instructed not to hold Verstappen for too long, while the Limburger didn’t have to stop for him earlier in the race, while the two-time Grand Prix winner had better tires at the end of the time. .
When asked if Marko understands Perez’s dissatisfaction, he replies: “It’s the same story as Max. He didn’t understand what was going on. But we had two different strategies: Max had a three-stop and Checo had a two-stop. He would never have made it on those tires because Max was so much faster. So it was in the team’s best interest to play that way. Not only because Max was able to take the lead in the World Cup, but also to secure the double victory.”
Perez was called in a third time just before the end of the race to take the point for the fastest lap of the race. Will Verstappen and Perez be released to fight each other under different circumstances? “Yes,” says Marko bluntly. “That was also due to these high temperatures. You could see that Hamilton was beginning to suffer from motor problems. And we were also at the limit. So the focus for us was on Russell to be one step ahead of him.” The improved pace at Mercedes doesn’t worry Marko for the time being. With a cheeky smile: “They’re getting closer, but they can’t challenge us yet!”