Marko praises ‘flawless’ Max performance

Jamie Woodhouse
Helmut Marko and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, embrace. Canada, June 2022.

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko felt that Max Verstappen delivered a “flawless” performance on his way to the victory in Canada.

In qualifying Verstappen was in a class of his own in the wet conditions, taking pole with a margin of 0.645s over Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.

Any hopes of a cakewalk to the line vanished for Verstappen though when Yuki Tsunoda went into the wall and triggered the Safety Car, meaning that for the final stint, the reigning World Champion had Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz right behind him on fresher tyres.

Verstappen though withstood that pressure, Red Bull’s Marko heaping praise on the Dutchman who scored his fifth win the last six races.

Max Verstappen standing on his RB18 celebrating. Montreal June 2022

Speaking to ORF, Marko said: “The pressure at the end of the race from Sainz was immense. Max didn’t quite manage to pull away from Carlos enough to prevent him from driving with an open rear wing. In the second sector of the track, Ferrari was clearly faster than us.

“Of course, it also played a role that the tyres on Verstappen’s car were older than those on Sainz’s car. But I have to say – to withstand such pressure, hats off. Fortunately, Sainz braked twice in the hairpin. But even under the greatest pressure Max drove flawlessly, there wasn’t a single mistake to be seen.”

Verstappen was also holding off Sainz without being able to hear the Red Bull pit wall over team radio. Red Bull principal Christian Horner said Verstappen could hear them, but they could not hear him.

“It also didn’t help that the radio to Verstappen was down,” Marko commented. “We didn’t know if he had received our message to release a bit more power.”

While Verstappen took to the top step of the podium, team-mate Sergio Perez’s race ended early with a transmission problem.

Marko said that the gearbox was coming towards the end of its lifespan anyway, but Red Bull had expected it to be able to complete the race in Canada.

He did not rule out the possibility that Perez’s qualifying crash had caused some damage to the gearbox.

“The gearbox broke down,” Marko confirmed. “It was at the end of its running time, but it should have lasted this race. It could also be consequential damage from Saturday’s accident.”

Following the regulatory overhaul in Formula 1 ahead of the 2022 campaign, Red Bull, like many teams, have been working to shave weight away from their challenger.

Marko confirmed that the RB18 remains above the minimum weight limit, so more pace is to come if they can slim it down even more.

“Our car is still overweight,” Marko stated. “That’s the negative. The positive is – if we manage to slim down further, then we gain some time.”