Helmut Marko crows to Red Bull rivals as F1 ‘Qualifying Championship’ takes shape

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen celebrates his Saudi Arabian GP win.

Helmut Marko is crowing after another double digits win for Max Verstappen

Helmut Marko shrugged off Red Bull’s off-track drama to tell their rivals they “have to admit” Red Bull “were superior” in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Verstappen claimed another 25 points towards his title defence at the Jeddah circuit on Saturday night when he led home Sergio Perez for a Red Bull 1-2.

‘We were superior, you just have to admit that’

As the team made it two-from-two for the two top steps on the podium, only Charles Leclerc’s fastest lap point denied Verstappen full marks for the season.

But given that it was another double-digit victory margin for the Dutchman, who was 19s up on the road from third-placed Leclerc, Marko was all smiles.

“This time we only won by 19 seconds,” he said to Sky Deutschland given his driver was 25s up on the nearest non-Red Bull in Bahrain.

“It may not have been that pleasant for the spectators, but we were superior, you just have to admit that.

“Thank God there was no one at the end.  The safety car came because with Perez’s five-second penalty, second place would probably have been eliminated.

“I think the car was good in all areas, the tyre wear was also very good.”


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Marko declares it’s ‘almost a qualifying championship’

Verstappen’s two race wins for 2024 have both come from pole position with Marko believing he would’ve had a more difficult time of it in Jeddah had Mercedes qualified better.

George Russell was seventh on the grid, making his way up to sixth, where he was only six seconds down on P4’s Oscar Piastri.

“We saw that Mercedes’ strategy was actually very good,” Marko told ORF.

“It’s almost a qualifying championship. You have to be at the front in qualifying and then life is much easier and then it looks easier.”

As such he reckons “at circuits where qualifying is crucial, such as Monte Carlo and Singapore”, if Red Bull don’t “don’t start from pole, then it could certainly happen that we don’t win.”

For now, though, he’s enjoying a moment of celebration in the midst of Red Bull’s off-track woes.

“With two double victories, everything will be right again in the world,” he concluded.

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