Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has insisted that it was “always clear” that reigning World Champion Max Verstappen was the favourite for the 2023 title, not team-mate Sergio Perez.
Verstappen extended his lead over the Mexican in the Drivers’ Championship to 14 points last Sunday, following a sublime victory at the Miami Grand Prix.
Verstappen recovered from ninth on the grid to win with relative ease, with Perez having had absolutely no answer to the Dutchman’s exceptional pace.
Perez put up little fight despite having started from pole, with him having known that victory would’ve seen him take the lead of the standings.
It was another case, though, of Perez being unable to match Verstappen on a normal racetrack, something he must do in order to be a serious championship contender.
With that in mind, Marko believes it’s easy to see who the favourite is to win the title this season.
“But it was always clear,” Marko told Osterreich newspaper, after the media outlet told the Austrian that Verstappen being the title favourite was “clear”.
“Checo has certain street circuits like Baku where he’s really strong. But in Miami, Max gave everyone a lesson.
“Nobody can copy the way he managed the tyres so that the fastest lap was still possible at the end.
“Imagine if Max had started from pole position. Then it really would have been a boring race.”
Ex-F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella was left particularly impressed by Verstappen’s “devastating” display at the Miami International Autodrome, where he made his recovery drive look concerningly easy.
Even being in the best car on the grid didn’t help Perez battle against Verstappen, with Fisichella believing that in terms of the title, there is “no competition” for the double World Champion.
“Verstappen was devastating in Miami,” Fisichella told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He gave the impression of being able to drive with one hand, even if of course he has a car that helps him because he uses very little tyres and when he opens the DRS he flies on the straight.
“It may happen that Perez, with the same car, wins a few races in the season. But when we talk about the world championship, there is no competition.”