Helmut Marko explains why he doesn’t fear Ferrari’s ‘strongest’ engine

Michelle Foster
Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko speaking with Christian Horner in the garage.

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko speaking with Christian Horner.

Ferrari may have pipped Max Verstappen to pole position in Friday’s qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix but that doesn’t mean Helmut Marko is worried about the SF-23’s race pace.

After all, he says, they can’t deploy maximum power for the full duration of a grand prix “because there have been reliability problems in the past”.

Ferrari arrived on the 2023 grid declaring they’d resolved last year’s engine reliability problems, pundits claiming that would give them an extra 30hp.

However, even before Charles Leclerc lined up on the grid for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Ferrari had already replaced his SF-23’s control electronics and energy store components on the Sunday morning.

Hours later he retired from the race, his second control electronics of the season damaged with the driver losing out on a third-placed finish.

Ferrari’s troubles have Marko proclaiming that even though Leclerc beat Verstappen to pole position in Baku, it’s the Red Bull driver who will have the better race pace.

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“Ferrari is very fast in one lap, they coped better than we did with the falling temperatures,” he told Sky Deutschland. “We weren’t optimal in terms of air pressure.

“But it’s the first time that Max in Baku starts from the front row and we should be better positioned in the race.

“The Ferrari engine is the strongest in the field. They can give maximum power for one lap, but not in the race because there have been reliability problems in the past.

“We have the result in qualifying we feared, it’s all very close.”

Verstappen is chasing his third win of this season and his fourth podium while for Leclerc a top-three finish would be both his and Ferrari’s first of the campaign in a grand prix.

Verstappen is confident he’ll have a “good car” come Sunday’s grand prix.

“It’s always tough around here to really put the whole lap together,” he said after Friday’s qualifying. “I think also the second run, we tried something different on the out lap which was maybe not ideal for the lap time at the end.

“But around here, it’s just really hard. In Q3, you are on the limit and trying to make everything perfect is not the easiest (thing). Nevertheless, we are P2.

“We know that we have a very good race car so all in all, it’s not bad. We’ll have to pass one car.”