Helmut Marko’s ‘sarcastic’ dig after Charles Leclerc crashes in qualifying

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc not happy. Miami May 2023

Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari garage, not happy. Miami May 2023

Helmut Marko has sarcastically stated “you can’t drive out behind” Charles Leclerc after the Ferrari driver’s second crash of the Miami weekend wrecked Max Verstappen’s qualifying.

Leclerc crashed in Friday’s practice at the Miami International Autodrome when a tank-slapper put him into the Turn 7 barriers, breaking his front suspension.

He shrugged that off and was adamant Saturday would be a better day but instead it was one that ended in a second crash with the driver again getting it wrong at Turn 7. This time it was the rear of the car that suffered damage, and out came the red flags with 1m36s remaining in Q3.

As such the Race Director opted not to restart the session as he felt there wasn’t time for the drivers to do an out-lap and a flying lap.

That cost Verstappen as the championship leader had aborted his first attempt in Q3 after making a mistake, with his grid position hinging on his second attempt, one he couldn’t make because of Leclerc.

“I was trying to put it on the limit and then I made a mistake,” he told Sky Sports F1. “Then you rely on a bit of luck that there is not going to be a red flag but that can happen on a street circuit. So, I’m just a bit upset with myself.”

Marko, however, puts the blame squarely on Leclerc’s shoulders.

Speaking to Sky Deutschland, the Red Bull motorsport advisor said: “To put it sarcastically: ‘You can’t drive out behind Leclerc.'”

“It was extremely unfortunate for Max,” he added. “He went a little far in the first run and then we should have come out of the pits earlier. We would have had the speed.

“At least the first two rows would have been safe. But it’s a learning phase. We wanted to concentrate completely on the last run and get the best out of it. The later you go out, the better the track will be. But in this case it wasn’t that right decision.”

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But while annoyed for Verstappen, the 80-year-old was full of praise for Red Bull’s other driver, Sergio Perez, after the Mexican put his car on pole position.

“Pole position for Checo, that’s unbelievable,” he said. “Here in Miami it’s more or less a second home race for him.

“He implemented it all well. He has learned in all phases. He’s ahead in terms of tyres, can concentrate more.

“In recent years he’s always been half a second to a second behind Max started. You can’t get that out in the course of one or two practice sessions but he’s starting to get closer to Max now and that’s why he’s always in the lead overall.”

Perez lines up P1 on Sunday’s grid with Verstappen down in ninth place with the latter targetting a “minimum P2 position” result.