It has been an eventful day for the Red Bull team at the Singapore Grand Prix, and certainly not in a positive sense.
The FIA has taken action against Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, following his controversial comments regarding Sergio Perez, while on the track the team were, as Max Verstappen put it, “much worse than expected”.
All that and more to get through in this wrap-up of today’s key Formula 1 headlines, so let us dive straight into the action…
FIA written warning and reminder for Helmut Marko
Ahead of Formula 1’s visit to Singapore, Marko had made headlines for all the wrong reasons when he suggested that Perez, team-mate to runaway Championship leader Verstappen, did not share his consistency due to traits stemming from his ethnicity.
Marko apologised publicly and to Perez for his remarks, with the FIA seeing it fit to hand the Red Bull advisor a written warning and remind him of his responsibilities in his position.
In a statement, the governing body wrote: “We can confirm that Helmut Marko has received a written warning and been reminded of his responsibilities as a public figure in motor sport in line with the FIA Code of Ethics.”
Max Verstappen paints bleak Red Bull picture
Verstappen had anticipated a tougher weekend on the track for Red Bull in Singapore, though the extent of their struggles in Friday practice certainly came as a shock.
The team which has won all 14 grands prix so far in F1 2023 were seven-tenths off the pace in FP2, Verstappen admitting that Red Bull’s struggles went beyond what he had expected too.
“It was worse than expected today,” he said.
“There are just a few things that we don’t understand that we have to look into.”
Or are Red Bull simply “playing games”
It is far from uncommon in the world of Formula 1 for a team to mask their ultimate performance through Friday practice, before turning the wick up for qualifying and the race.
It remains to be seen whether Red Bull will pull this old trick out of the bag, former IndyCar and NASCAR racer Danica Patrick anticipating they will do exactly that.
“I’m not always buying every time that a team has a bad day, or even a session,” she told Sky F1.
“But they did come in saying it would probably be a little bit more of a struggle, and so far that’s been true…it’s only Friday.”
Mercedes keeping close eye on Felipe Massa legal case
Even if Red Bull’s unbeaten run was to end in Singapore, the F1 2023 title double is already effectively secured, the kind of achievement which Mercedes are desperate to realise again having not tasted title glory since 2021.
A controversial title-decider in Abu Dhabi that year saw Mercedes lose out on the title double, Verstappen snatching the World Championship from Lewis Hamilton on the last lap, though Mercedes are now keeping a close eye on the 2008 title dispute spearheaded by Massa, with Abu Dhabi in mind for the Silver Arrows.
“It’s a civil case behind it,” said Wolff of the Massa case. “It will certainly set a precedent, whatever it is. We’re looking from the sidelines with curiosity.
“The FIA commented on the 2021 race with a clear statement, so that’s why we’re looking at it with interest.”
Jody Scheckter brands Fernando Alonso overrated
While Alonso has not added a Formula 1 World Championship to his glowing CV since 2006, the Spaniard nonetheless is still to this day regarded as one of the strongest all-round driving talents anywhere on the grid.
Alonso now is earning widespread praise for his performances at Aston Martin, having made the F1 2023 podium seven times during his first season with the team, but while 1979 champion Scheckter says Alonso is doing a “great job”, he does believe the media overhype Alonso.
“Fernando’s obviously very good,” Scheckter is widely reported as having told Stats Perform.
“I don’t think he’s as good as some of the press think he is. But he’s doing a good job now, he’s doing a great job.”