Red Bull ’can’t afford’ latest Perez slump - Marko

"I hope that Mercedes will get stronger"


26 June 2024 - 11:29
Red Bull 'can't afford'

Red Bull "can’t afford" Sergio Perez’s latest performance slump, team consultant Dr Helmut Marko insists.

In Barcelona, the rapidly disappearing dominance enjoyed by Red Bull throughout the 2022-2025 ground effect regulations so far continued to unfold.

Marko told Speed Week that McLaren clearly had "the faster car" in Spain.

"However, Max (Verstappen) drives practically error-free, which Lando (Norris) can’t do yet, thank God," said the 81-year-old Austrian. "But he remains our main competitor.

"So I hope that Mercedes will get stronger and be the second strongest force for a while, which would certainly help us with a view to the world championship."

Mexican Perez’s contract was recently extended, which Marko admits was a move to restore calm and continuity for Red Bull amid a tumultuous season on and off the track.

However, Marko says that strategy "didn’t work".

"Checo started much further back than he finished," he said, referring to last weekend’s Spanish GP, "but now that the field is coming together like this, we can’t afford any weaknesses."

Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher insists it is a big problem for Red Bull is that "Verstappen has no one who can help him", unlike the other top teams.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said after Barcelona that it is Verstappen who wins the grands prix rather than Mercedes, and Marko does not seem to disagree.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown also declared: "Perez has to step up if they want to remain competitive, because Max tries to win every race while Sergio only tries to get points.

"That gives us the opportunity to get a little closer."

Marko agreed: "Exactly. Max can’t drive at the limit like this for an entire season. The overtaking manoeuvre that put him in the lead was already extraordinary even for him."

Bild newspaper said after the Spanish GP that Verstappen is "faster than his own car".

"That sums it up well," said Marko. "Max wins because he is so confident, not because the car is so good."

This weekend is Red Bull’s own Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring, and Marko said: "We also have a sprint race again, so if we don’t do well on Friday, that could go wrong."

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