The Helmut Marko warning that will send shivers down spines of Red Bull rivals

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen on the podium with Lando Norris and Sergio Perez. Hungary July 2023

Race winner Max Verstappen on the podium with Lando Norris and Sergio Perez. Hungary July 2023

Putting an upgraded RB19 on the track in Hungary, Max Verstappen won the race by 34s but worryingly for Red Bull’s rivals, Helmut Marko says they didn’t “fully exploit” the car’s potential.

Red Bull brought their second big upgrade package for this season to the Hungaroring with the RB19 sporting wider sidepods, new-look letterbox inlets, revised front and rear corners with bigger brake ducts, and a new floor.

But with Lewis Hamilton taking pole position by 0.003s ahead of Verstappen, only the second non-Red Bull driver to secure a qualifying P1 this season, the Briton questioned Red Bull’s upgrades and most notably their DRS advantage, or what he perceived as a lack thereof.

‘Red Bull have not yet fully exploited the potential of our upgrade’

“Honestly,” he said after qualifying, “I think they’ve slowed down quite a bit from the beginning of the year.

“I mean, they’ve still got the DRS, they don’t have the DRS advantage all of a sudden that they used to have. Where did that go?

“But I mean they’ve just had an upgrade, so we expected them to have taken another step. We heard it was around two-tenths or something like that. So for them to not have been able to extract that in qualifying is interesting.”

Red Bull and Verstappen hit back on the track in the grand prix with the reigning World Champion slicing past his former nemesis on the inside at Turn 1 of the opening lap, setting himself up for the victory.

Taking the chequered flag a whopping 34s ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, it was Red Bull’s 11th win of the season, their latest step towards a whitewash, and their 12th on the trot going back to last year’s Abu Dhabi victory. The latter is a new Formula 1 record for the most wins in succession.

But what will come as a bigger concern for Red Bull’s rivals is Marko’s comments after the race.

“On Saturday, we did not find the right balance during qualifying,” the motorsport advisor told Sky Deutschland. “[In the race] we did, but we have not yet fully exploited the potential of our upgrade.” recommends

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The 80-year-old was full of praise for Verstappen with the Dutchman’s ninth win of this season seeing him race out to a 110-point lead over his team-mate Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ standings.

“The successful start and then the sovereignty with which Max then drove the race home,” Marko enthused. “He was good on the tyres and picked up the fastest lap.

“The sovereignty and lightness increasingly distinguishing him as a very exceptional talent.”

Such is Verstappen’s form in the RB19, Marko has warned the team’s rivals he’ll be even better at the next race in Belgium as the Spa-Francorchamps circuit suits the RB19.

The only issue for Verstappen could be the weather.

“The track should actually suit our car better due to the faster corners,” said Marko. “Unfortunately, rain is forecast. So you have to be tough and consistent in the race: if visibility is poor due to rain, you have to send out the Safety Car or stop the race.”

Read next: Hungarian Grand Prix conclusions: Ricciardo returns, Perez’s defiant drive and more