Marko ranks Red Bull among front runners after first test

Jamie Woodhouse
Helmut Marko, Red Bull, stern faced. Spain, February 2022.

Helmut Marko is the man in charge of Red Bull's junior programme.

Red Bull driver programme boss Helmut Marko believes his team are still one of the top contenders following Barcelona.

With Formula 1 rolling out a heavily revised set of regulations for the 2022 campaign, it creates the potential for change in the pecking order also.

Red Bull are one of two teams hoping that this is not the case for themselves, after Red Bull and Mercedes delivered a thrilling season-long battle in 2021, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen snatching the Drivers’ title from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the last race in Abu Dhabi.

Mercedes and Red Bull are very much set on retaining their status as top-tier teams in Formula 1, and the three-day shakedown in Barcelona certainly made positive reading for Mercedes as Hamilton set the fastest overall time, a 1:19.138 on the C5 tyre, the softest in Pirelli’s range.

George Russell made it a Mercedes one-two by clocking a 1:19.233 on the same compound.

As for Red Bull, Perez set their fastest time across the three days, but while his 1:19.556 was just over four-tenths down on Hamilton, it was done with C4 tyres, a step harder than the C5s which the Mercedes duo used.

Predicting the order based on the first pre-season outing is never ideal, but Marko has seen enough to suggest that Red Bull will go into the 2022 season as a front runner still.

Max Verstappen RB18 in the Red Bull garage in testing. Barcelona February 2022
Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen sitting in his RB18 in the Red Bull garage in testing. Barcelona February 2022

“We believe that we are among the front runners,” he told Motorsport-Magazin.com.

Other teams to catch the eye in Barcelona for the right reasons were Ferrari and McLaren.

Ferrari actually pumped in the most laps of any team with 439, a very positive sign considering they are believed to have gone brave with their new power unit in search of performance.

Their best time came courtesy of Charles Leclerc, a 1:19.689 on the C3s, 0.067s up on Verstappen’s best effort using the same compound.

Lando Norris meanwhile was the fastest non-Mercedes or Red Bull driver at the test, setting a 1:19.568 on the C4s.

Marko acknowledged that both teams are looking strong.

“Ferrari seems to be strong and McLaren is also there,” he stated.

 

Next up is the official pre-season test in Bahrain from March 10-12, before the season begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.

 

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