Helmut Marko in Silverstone crash dig: ‘We’re happy Lewis Hamilton is not next to us’

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen crashed into the pit wall. Britain July 2023

Max Verstappen crashed into the pit wall during qualifying. Britain July 2023

As Max Verstappen prepares to line up on the front row of the British Grand Prix grid alongside one British driver, Helmut Marko says he’s “glad” it’s not a different one in Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen will start Sunday’s British Grand Prix from pole position as the Dutchman chases Red Bull’s first win at the Northamptonshire track in a decade.

He’ll be joined by Lando Norris on the front row with the McLaren driver putting in a star performance throughout qualifying to claim second place ahead of his team-mate Oscar Piastri.

It, however, could’ve been a different story in qualifying as Red Bull briefly considered not sending Verstappen out for a second run in Q3 such was his advantage – six-tenths – over the chasing pack after his first run.

In the end they decided not to risk it, a good call given that he had to improve on his previous best to beat Norris to pole position.

“I didn’t expect the two McLarens to be so close to us,” Marko told Krone. “In the end we even considered not going out again to save tyres for the race. Thank God we didn’t do that!”

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Lining up ahead of one British driver in Norris, Marko couldn’t resist a dig at another saying Red Bull were happy that it wasn’t Hamilton who was joining their driver on the front row.

“But on the other hand,” he continued, “we’re glad that Lewis Hamilton isn’t standing next to us, that’s reassuring. Because that doesn’t bring up good memories.”

Two years ago Hamilton and Verstappen lined up 1-2 on the British Grand Prix grid as the two fought for the World title with Verstappen getting the jump on his Mercedes rival only for Hamilton to clip his right-rear wheel into Copse corner.

That sent Verstappen hurtling through the gravel trap and hard into the barriers with the impact recorded at 51Gs.

This year Verstappen already has a crash-count for the British Grand Prix weekend with the Dutchman hitting the pit wall when he understeered as he left his garage in Q1.

He broke his front wing and had to be pushed back in the garage for repairs. That, though, was just part two of his problems in Q1.

“Even before that,” Marko revealed, “a cable got stuck and Max tore off half of our overboard desk while driving out, then he crashed into the wall because it was very slippery there.

“Fortunately we still had enough time to fix it, but it caused quite a stir.”

As for his side of the story, Verstappen joked in the post-qualifying press conference: “I think I’m scared to drive out of my box now!

“No, it has nothing to do with confidence. My engineer asked me what happened. I said I understeered. It happens.

“The last time that I hit a wall proper was here a couple of years ago, so these things happen. A parking incident? I mean, I’ve crashed once before in the pit lane, but not in F1.”

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