Helmut Marko: ‘I hear about rivals’ updates but I don’t see it on the stopwatch’

Sam Cooper
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc trails Red Bull's Max Verstappen in Bahrain.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc trails Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Helmut Marko has expressed his surprise at Red Bull’s rivals’ inability to catch up to the Milton Keynes outfit.

With the RB18 proving to be one of the most dominant cars in F1 history, Red Bull’s 2023 attempt looks to be an improvement still with the team having won all six races of the 2023 season so far.

That record looks set to be extended on Sunday given Max Verstappen starts on pole and Red Bull senior advisor Marko admitted he was surprised other teams have not been able to close the gap.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after qualifying in Barcelona, Marko said “I only hear [about] updates but I don’t see it on the stopwatch.”

“I think we improved a very good car from last year and we were surprised that our rivals don’t come any nearer,” the 80-year-old said.” I only hear [about] updates but I don’t see it on the stopwatch.

“I think we are doing the right thing and obviously something is not so well with our rivals.”

Marko was most likely referring to Ferrari and Mercedes who both brought major upgrade packages to the last two races but still seem off the pace set by Red Bull.

But Saturday’s session in Spain was not plain sailing for Red Bull as they watched Sergio Perez follow up his miserable Monaco run out with an exit in Q2.

Marko said the Mexican needed a good race on Sunday to boost his self confidence.

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“I was worried he was stuck in the gravel but fortunately he came out but he didn’t make it into Q3,” Marko said. “I think he needs a good race tomorrow and then his self confidence will be back.”

One man who is certainly not down on self confidence is Verstappen who looks on course to win his third consecutive race and the 40th of his career. Asked if Verstappen could beat his own record of 15 victories in a single season, Marko did not reply but said it would be difficult for anyone to beat him this weekend.

“I think Max is in great shape. You see how everything comes so easy and if you watch the car, there’s no movement, nothing. So I think it will be difficult to beat him tomorrow.”