Berger backing Red Bull as Marko is ‘always smiling’

Jamie Woodhouse
The side of Max Verstappen's Red Bull. Bahrain. March 2022.

A side shot of Max Verstappen driving the upgraded Red Bull RB18 in Bahrain. March 2022.

Ex-F1 driver Gerhard Berger expects Red Bull to be the leading team and is assured in that pick by Helmut Marko’s smiling.

As is always the case with testing, from it efforts were made to piece together an early pecking order for the 2022 season, with Red Bull shooting to the top of the list for many after their dominant pace on the third and final day in Bahrain.

Max Verstappen set the fastest time of the day and the test, a 1:31.720, which has made Red Bull the favourites to win the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez had topped the morning session on day three, with Verstappen then upping the pace in the afternoon as Red Bull flexed the muscles of their upgraded RB18.

Both lap times drew a broad smile from Marko in the garage, who has said previously that the upgrades were worth over half a second.

And Berger is tipping Red Bull to be the leading team at the Bahrain GP.

Speaking on the ServusTV programme ‘Sport und Talk aus dem Hangar-7’, Berger said: “When you can do a lot of laps, it’s always very reassuring. After the tests, as a driver you can already see whether you are well positioned.

“And I’m in good spirits when it comes to Red Bull Racing. Because I always see motorsport consultant Dr. Marko with a smile on his face.

“I think at Red Bull Racing you already know that the car is easy to drive. You can see certain tendencies. I think Red Bull will be at the front.”

George Russell and Max Verstappen line up in testing. Bahrain March 2022
Mercedes driver George Russell and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen line up in testing. Bahrain March 2022

Berger acknowledged that “we won’t see where the teams really stand until next Saturday in qualifying”, but Red Bull were the clear pacesetters of the test, while Mercedes, expected to be their main rival, were not looking anywhere near as competitive.

Mercedes went with a zero-pod approach for the W13, a radical design which stripped away much of the usual sidepod area, leaving narrow inlets.

Many wondered if Mercedes had found that dreaded silver bullet, but the W13 looked a handful to drive in Bahrain while also suffering badly from porpoising down the straights.

Pace wise it didn’t look great either, George Russell ending day three just over a second down on Verstappen’s best time.

Berger described Mercedes’ innovation as “very spectacular” to the eyes, but now it is time to see how well it can actually work.

Berger believes that will especially be the case in hot temperatures, with Bahrain ticking that box.

 

“This is an extreme approach by Mercedes, so we have to see if it works, especially in hot temperatures,” said Berger of Mercedes’ sidepod solution.

“But that looks very spectacular at Mercedes.”

 

PlanetF1 Verdict

 

Berger is backing Red Bull

Gerhard Berger is backing Red Bull to lead the season.