Revealed: Helmut Marko’s response when told Sergio Perez’s Qatar penalty count

Michelle Foster
Red Bull's Helmut Marko speaking with Sergio Perez

Red Bull's Helmut Marko speaking with Sergio Perez

Helmut Marko “didn’t even notice” Sergio Perez’s penalty count at the Qatar Grand Prix having lost track after the second five-second penalty.

On a weekend in which Max Verstappen wrote his name into Formula 1’s record book as the 11th driver in history to become a three-time World Champion, Perez had yet another disappointing outing.

Enduring yet another “spiral”, his team boss Christian Horner’s description, the 33-year-old left Qatar having only scored a solitary point.

Helmut Marko: I didn’t even notice

It could’ve been a few more were it not for his penalty-fest.

Perez qualified down in 13th place for the Grand Prix as he was penalised in Q2 for exceeding track limits and had his lap time deleted.

The lap time was good enough to see him through to the pole position shoot-out but instead he dropped to 13th, his night over early.

There was even more drama in the Sprint race where he was involved in a multi-car crash, meaning he started the Sunday night Grand Prix from the pit lane. Red Bull broke parc ferme conditions to fix his car.

His recovery on the night was hampered by his own mistakes as Perez was hit with three five-second penalties for exceeding track limits six times. Taking the first two in his pit stops, the third meant that although he was ninth on the line, he was tenth in the official classification.

However, were it not for his 15 seconds in total, he could’ve been P7 at worse.

Marko stopped keeping track after the second.

“He has to get out of this negative spiral. In between there were fast laps again [in Qatar], but it doesn’t help if you get ten-second penalties,” he told ORF.

Pointed out to him that the penalties were 15 seconds as Perez received a third, and he said: “I didn’t even notice.”

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Marko’s biggest concern with Perez at the moment is that his decline could cost him and Red Bull second place in the Drivers’ Championship.

“It looked quite comfortable for a while, but now the lead is melting. I hope we can save second place,” he said.

With his advantage over Lewis Hamilton slashed by 25 points in the last three races to just 30, Marko is worried it’s actually McLaren who could trip Perez up as they continue to take the big points.

The Woking team’s drivers have recorded five podiums in three races, including two-three results in Japan and Qatar with Oscar Piastri also winning the Sprint race in Qatar.

Marko conceded he wasn’t too worried when Red Bull “did not constantly have the same chasers in the race. However, now it is becoming critical with the two strong drivers that McLaren has.

“I hope we can maintain second place in the championship.”

Marko has already warned Perez that if he doesn’t secure the runner-up spot there are “three” drivers at AlphaTauri waiting to replace him.

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