Helmut Marko: Sergio Perez hitting Max Verstappen would have been ‘Waterloo’ moment

Thomas Maher
Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 2024 Miami Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez almost decided his Red Bull future for himself had this moment gone wrong.

Helmut Marko believes Sergio Perez taking Max Verstappen out at the start of the Miami Grand Prix would have had catastrophic consequences.

Sergio Perez almost came a cropper at the start of the 2024 Miami Grand Prix, in which the Mexican driver barely avoided taking his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen out of the race.

Helmut Marko: Thank goodness it turned out well!

Perez started the Miami Grand Prix from fourth on the grid and made a good start to get alongside the hesitant Charles Leclerc as the Ferrari driver didn’t get off the line well from his second-place grid slot.

But, in his eagerness to get ahead, Perez left his braking late and, when he did, sailed straight on miles past the apex. With Verstappen turning into the apex of the corner, the Dutch driver escaped being taken out by centimetres as Perez just about managed to get his car slowed down enough to avoid hitting the other RB20.

With Perez currently negotiating with Red Bull about a possible contract extension beyond the end of this season, taking Verstappen out of the lead of the race would have been a surefire way to make sure that his negotiations would fail.

Addressing the incident in his post-race column for Speedweek, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said the incident would have been catastrophic for him had he actually hit his teammate.

Referring to the famous battle, Marko said Perez striking Verstappen would have been “like Waterloo”.

“When Perez almost caused a crash in the first corner after the start, I thought to myself: “For God’s sake!” Marko wrote.

“It reminded me of Mexico [2023], where Checo [Perez] also made a manoeuvre like that in the first corner.

“Thank goodness it turned out well, because it would have been Waterloo if he’d taken Max out. The fact that Leclerc didn’t have a good start led Checo to do this.”

Explaining the Turn 1 incident that almost cost him dearly, Perez said he had found zero grip on the tight inside line.

“As soon as I dived [to the] inside of Charles, I could see as soon as I hit the brakes there was no grip at all like we saw [on Saturday] with Lewis,” he said.

“Off-line here, especially into Turn 1, there’s no grip, zero grip down there, and I did struggle quite a bit, unfortunately.”

But Perez’s efforts in Miami had the approval of Marko, who will play a key role in deciding whether or not the Mexican stays on alongside Verstappen next season.

“Overall, however, Checo had a good race and his deficit was bearable.

“And he was also lucky that Carlos Sainz picked up a time penalty, so he moved up to fourth place, which is where he started from. It was impressive how he kept Norris behind him in the much faster car.”

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Marko also said that, without the Safety Car intervention that gave Norris the advantage of track position over the Red Bull, his money would still have been on Verstappen to win despite McLaren’s pace advantage.

“If Max had stayed in front, it would certainly have been an exciting race,” he said.

“Although I believe that he would have managed to keep Norris behind him despite McLaren’s better race pace and top speed. Because he had a relative lead of 11 seconds over him at the front.

“Red Bull Racing lost most of their time in the first corner and Max also said that they didn’t manage to get the right balance in the car and build up the necessary grip throughout the weekend.

“We didn’t have the fastest car, and even before Max cleared the bollard, we were only just ahead of the Ferrari in terms of speed. That had nothing to do with the temperatures, which were relatively constant.”


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