Helmut Marko holds talks with Yuki Tsunoda after Daniel Ricciardo incident

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko in the 2022 Saudi GP paddock.

Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko.

Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko said he held talks with RB’s Yuki Tsunoda following the Bahrain team orders drama with Daniel Ricciardo, a discussion which turned into a show of support for Tsunoda.

During the latter stages of the F1 2024 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Tsunoda – running in P13 on the hard tyres – was asked by RB to swap positions with team-mate Ricciardo, who was running the soft compound.

Helmut Marko admits Yuki Tsunoda compromised in Bahrain

It is safe to say that order did not go down well with Tsunoda, who reluctantly obliged a lap later, though the saga continued beyond the chequered flag in a near-collision instigated by an enraged Tsunoda on the cooldown lap.

Ricciardo said Tsunoda was displaying “immaturity” with Marko now weighing in on the team orders situation.

He admits the “theatre” was avoidable, though could see where Tsunoda’s frustrations were coming from, claiming RB’s strategy cost him the chance to finish P10, with P14 instead his result.

“The theatre could have been avoided,” said Marko when speaking to OE24.

“I spoke to Yuki afterwards. With the right strategy, he could have finished 10th.”

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While the first race weekend for the rebranded RB team did not go to plan, for the main Red Bull team it was, by Marko’s own admission,  a “very good weekend.”

Defending three-time World Champion Max Verstappen went from pole to victory, while team-mate Sergio Perez ensured that Red Bull started the new season with a one-two finish.

Rivals will now wait in anticipation, but also fear, to see how Red Bull stack up at the next battleground, Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Corniche Circuit, with it put to Marko that former boss of their Faenza-based second team, Franz Tost, has tipped Red Bull to grow stronger beyond a Bahrain track which he does not believe suited them.

In response to that, Marko said it will be a good Saudi Arabian Grand Prix for Red Bull if the RB20 can hit the same heights as it did in Bahrain.

“In Jeddah we have a completely different track with more high-speed corners and a different surface,” he said.

“I’ll be happy if our car works as well there as it did at the season opener.”

Marko admitted that Verstappen – who crossed the finish line in Bahrain 25 seconds clear of the closest non-Red Bull racer, third-placed Carlos Sainz – was only truly on the “limit” when setting the fastest lap of a 1.32.608 – a second-and-a-half faster than Charles Leclerc’s benchmark up to that point.

Marko was therefore hit with a further Tost prediction that Red Bull will win all 24 races this year.

Red Bull almost pulled off a historic undefeated season in 2023, Singapore the only venue which denied them a clean sweep, but Marko is not entertaining the idea of realising Tost’s expectation this time around.

“Ah, go. We saw last year that can’t work,” Marko affirmed. “You’re sensational on the track and then comes Singapore, where we have no chance.

“The most important thing is the World Championship title.”

On that front, Bahrain suggested that Red Bull and Verstappen have a very strong chance of delivering another title double in F1 2024, which would see Verstappen become a four-time World Champion.

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