Helmut Marko fires jibe at Carlos Sainz and George Russell

Max Verstappen has dominated 2022 and will be looking to win his third consecutive title with Red Bull next year.

Max Verstappen has stepped his performance up a level once again this year, being crowned champion of 2022 as early as Suzuka with Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc now well over 100 points behind the Dutchman going into the final two rounds of the season. 

Mercedes failed to provide their drivers with a car capable of challenging Red Bull following the regulation changes at the start of this year, while Ferrari took themselves out of the title equation with mechanical failures and strategy errors.

Red Bull’s chief advisor Helmut Marko has recently suggested that it is futile for any teammate of Verstappen to attempt to challenge the Dutchman for the title, labelling the 25-year-old unbeatable, but the Austrian has now admitted that there are two drivers on the grid with the ability to give Verstappen problems.

While still suggesting that Verstappen is the best driver on the grid, Marko admits that Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc are both almost on the level of the Red Bull driver, but not their teammates George Russell and Carlos Sainz.

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With regards to Hamilton, Marko suggests that the seven-time world champion “has a clear advantage in terms of experience, and can also motivate himself incredibly,” while believing that Mercedes will provide him with a much more competitive car next year.

The Austrian has also spoken out about Leclerc’s failed title challenge this year, coming to the conclusion that the Monegasque driver is “very strong in qualifying but prone to making mistakes,” as was seen at Paul Ricard for example, where Leclerc crashed out of the race without any other driver being near him.

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Sergio Perez recently claimed that now he has had two years to settle in to Red Bull, he believes that he can finally now put together a more competitive title charge, currently being the closest driver to his teammate in the standings.

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Perez’s comments have not changed Marko’s mind however with the Red Bull advisor believing that in equal machinery, the Mexican does not have the ability to match Verstappen, neither do any of the drivers in the Red Bull system, residing them to playing the teammate game which earned Perez the ‘minister of defence’ nickname last year.

It was Marko’s decision to bring Max Verstappen both to Toro Rosso and Red Bull as a teenager, meaning that his admiration for the two-time world champion is long standing and well thought out, rather than getting caught up in the Verstappen hype.