Helmut Marko on Ferrari’s ‘fastest engine’ and George Russell’s 23-win prediction

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen with a fist in celebration. Bahrain March 2023

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen with a fist in celebration. Bahrain March 2023

Despite George Russell’s concerns Red Bull could win every race this season, Helmut Marko expects Red Bull rivals will fight back and it could start as early as the next race in Jeddah.

Red Bull set the pace in pre-season testing, the RB19 looking supreme only for things to go a little wrong on the opening day of the new season.

Max Verstappen voiced his frustration over the radio as the balance from testing wasn’t there, neither was the pace.

The team recovered to lock out on the front row of the grid, prompting Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff to say they’d been “playing” with their rivals.

Marko said that was “absolute nonsense” as his drivers were on the limit from the very first lap of the weekend. They, however, weren’t when it came to the final 10 laps, Verstappen and Perez cruising to an extremely comfortable 1-2 on the Sunday.

It wasn’t the most exciting race at the front for Verstappen with Perez at least having to use strategy to get the jump on Charles Leclerc.

But once that was made he too went into cruise mode with Mercedes driver Russell saying such was Red Bull’s advantage they could win every single one of this season’s races.

Marko has downplayed the chance of that happening.

“I wouldn’t mind if it will be a boring year, but I don’t believe it will be,” he told Motorsport.com.

“It’s only one race, and it is a specific race as well because of the [abrasive] tarmac.

“All races are different. Jeddah is much faster, for example, and other teams will develop their cars as well. They’re not sleeping.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

How accurate are the last 10 F1 season openers in predicting the World Champions?
Seven reasons why Max Verstappen’s Red Bull F1 team are just so bloody good
The complete driver and teams’ standings after the Bahrain Grand Prix

The 79-year-old believes Ferrari will pose a greater challenge in the races to come as they have the “fastest engine”. But, as he points out, it’s not a very reliable one with Leclerc retiring from the race due to power unit issue.

“I think at the moment,” Marko continued, “the Ferrari is the fastest engine, but how does the fastest engine help if it’s not reliable?

“But yes, the top speed is like it is and we have to cope with it. Also, if we come to a circuit like Monza, let’s see what happens.”

Team boss Christian Horner also downplayed the prospect of Red Bull winning all 23 races.

“Twenty-three races is a marathon, and it is about being consistent over the campaign,” he said. “[Bahrain] was a great start… But we fully expect our rivals to come back hard in the future races.”