Marko: The driver, not the car, will decide the title

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen fist raised. Austin October 2021

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen with fist raised in celebration as a cameraman films him. Austin October 2021

Helmut Marko feels it is up to Max Verstappen to win the title, although having the whole package on song definitely helps.

This year’s championship is one of the fiercest Formula 1 has seen in recent years.

While the past seven years have gone the way of Mercedes, the Brackley squad setting a new record for the most consecutive championship doubles, their reign is under threat.

With five races remaining it is Verstappen who is leading the Drivers’ standings, the 24-year-old 12 points up on Lewis Hamilton.

Pundits have spent the season debating whether the Red Bull RB16B is now a better car than the W12 with the early season results saying it was, while Red Bull reckon Mercedes have found something extra since Silverstone.

Despite that Verstappen went into the summer break with eight-point deficit that he has overturned, making it a 12-point advantage.

Asked if the car or the driver will decide the World title, Red Bull advisor Marko told Auto Motor und Sport: “The driver.

“First of all, both teams have to be as flawless as possible – something neither Mercedes nor we have succeeded so far.

“The mistakes in terms of strategy, preparation and pit stops have to be minimal, so the whole package has to be right.

Marko says the fact that Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas have only managed one race win each this season, despite racing the same cars as their team-mates, proves that it is the driver.

“You can see that Bottas has a good day here and there and is at the front,” he continued, “the same goes for Perez.

“But nobody can keep up with the two top people [Verstappen and Hamilton].

“The driver makes the difference.”

Red Bull are the favourites to take the win in Mexico this weekend, the high altitude of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez suiting the Honda engine more than its Mercedes counterpart.

This year’s championship though has seen several surprise results, the most recent of which was at the Circuit of The Americas.

Verstappen took a surprise win against Hamilton, doubling his lead in the Drivers’ Championship.

“The [USGP] win was incredibly important from a moral point of view,” Marko said. “The last three races in general. We scored more points than we had calculated. We expected a tie at most, but rather an advantage.


“Now we have a lead of 12 points. We hope that the forecasts are correct. That we have a certain favourite position in Mexico and Brazil because of the engines.

He added: “It should actually be a double victory.”


Marko's right; the champion will be the better driver

Hamilton and Verstappen will both be looking to prove who the better driver is in these last few races.