‘First look says Ferrari overtook Mercedes and Red Bull’

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez follows Carlos Sainz. Spain, February 2022.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez follows the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz down the straight. Spain, February 2022.

Helmut Marko says based on the opening pre-season test it appears as if Ferrari are ahead, but Red Bull aren’t worried.

Putting in the laps at the Circuit de Catalunya last week, the teams finally had a good look at their rivals’ 2022 cars and the different interpretations of the new regulations.

Ferrari arrived with baby bath sidepods, Williams featured a unique hole and Red Bull went with a dramatic undercut, and that’s just a few of the various sidepod designs.

But while the cars are completely different, the timesheet at the end of the group shakedown was not.

Mercedes finished with the 1-2 with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in third place. Lando Norris was fourth fastest overall for McLaren, just ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

It is, however, still Ferrari who caught the attention of both Red Bull and Mercedes.

“The first balance of the test in Barcelona was that Ferrari overtook Mercedes and Red Bull,” Red Bull advisor Marko told RTL.

“They are teams that has different technical concepts and in Bahrain the fine-tuning will be decisive.

“In terms of engine power, it seems that Ferrari is now the best.”

He’s not the only one who feels Ferrari have surged ahead with their engine, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff also saying that “Ferrari have the strongest power unit at the moment”.

Wolff isn’t overly concerned, and neither is Marko.

The Austrian says the first pre-season outing was a good one for Red Bull in terms of “performance and mileage” with their new RB18.

“Verstappen and Perez both they told us that ‘yes, it drives well’,” he continued.

“We still have weaknesses, of course, but they seem solvable with relatively little effort. The first impression was very good.”

Looking ahead to the 2022 season, which begins in Bahrain on 20 March, Marko reckons the battle for the World title could once again rage between Red Bull and Mercedes.


And in that case he’s expecting Perez to have more of an impact than Hamilton’s new team-mate George Russell.

“George Russell was sensational in some qualifying,” he explained, “but in the race he was only a few tenths ahead of Nicholas Latifi.

“Sergio Perez, on the other hand, is a great team-mate as well as an established driver.

“Verstappen? I expect him to be even stronger.”


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