Helmut Marko reveals only two drivers who could challenge Max Verstappen

Michelle Foster
Christian Horner, Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko celebrate the win. Hungary July 2022

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko celebrate.

As Sergio Perez once again fell short in his battle against Max Verstappen, overtaken on the track at Spa, Helmut Marko says there are only two drivers on today’s grid who could beat Verstappen.

But pointing to World Champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, he reckons they’d need a car that’s better than Verstappen’s Red Bull to do so.

Verstappen was unbeatable at the Belgian Grand Prix weekend as the Dutchman set the pace in both qualifying sessions, won the Sprint race with a pass on Oscar Piastri, and then won the grand prix despite having lined up sixth on the grid due to a gearbox penalty.

Helmut Marko: I would perhaps say Alonso or Hamilton

It took Verstappen all of nine laps to run P2 behind his team-mate Perez and a further eight to pass him for the lead.

Verstappen went on to win the grand prix by a whopping 22s over his team-mate and extended his lead in the Drivers’ standings to 125 points.

It begs the question, can anyone on today’s grid beat the 25-year-old?

“I would perhaps say Alonso or Hamilton,” Marko told DAZN, “but in the same car it would be very difficult.”

Just ask Perez. The Mexican driver has two wins to his team-mate’s 10 and although he could still win the title, that’s just mathematics, not reality.

As Marko put it: “Second place, behind Max is like a victory. He had a good qualy, a good Sprint race, and had a controlled race with good speed.

“Second place, behind Max is like a victory.”

He added: “Max Verstappen wins easily no matter what. The whole team, every stop works, no mistakes are made, the whole team is fast and they are doing an incredible job.”

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With 10 wins on the board already this season, 12 in total for Red Bull, the team is on course for a season’s whitewash of 22-0.

That was put to Marko, the 80-year-old downplaying the prospect.

“Realistically I have to say no, but we already have 12 victories and at the beginning we said we could win 12 so, who knows?” he said.

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