Helmut Marko has an explanation for why Max Verstappen couldn’t match Sergio Perez

Helmut Mark has predicted that a “different” Max Verstappen will turn up to the 2023 Australian Grand Prix after a stomach bug impacted his pre-Jeddah preparations.

Max Verstappen delayed his flight to Saudi Arabia, missing media duties and arriving on the Friday having been struck down with a stomach illness ahead of the Grand Prix week.

Red Bull’s key advisor Helmut Marko has confidently claimed that Max Verstappen will return to “maximum performance” at the Australian Grand Prix after his illness hampered his pre-race training ahead of Saudi Arabia.

Verstappen had an early exit from the qualifying session in Jeddah when a driveshaft issue forced him to accept P15 on the grid, although that didn’t stop him securing P2 on Sunday.

“Max was not 100 percent,” Marko told German publication F1 Insider.

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“He is doing everything he can to return to maximum performance. That’s why we’ll see a different Verstappen again in Australia.”

Red Bull had Liam Lawson on standby in Saudi Arabia in case Verstappen wasn’t able to participate in the weekend.

Although Verstappen was only at “about 80 percent,” according to Marko, he still managed to get into the car and race everyone but his teammate into submission.

At one point, showing his dominance over his rivals, Verstappen glided past Mercedes driver George Russell, with commentators claiming it looked like F1 vs F2. 

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Verstappen even managed to take the fastest lap point away from teammate Sergio Perez, maintaining his championship lead despite team orders to reduce his pace towards the end of the race.

Marko defended the move from Verstappen as “typical Max,” while Perez urged an internal review within the team over the team’s communication. 

“They told me I had the fastest lap and to keep the pace, a certain pace, so I thought the communication was the same to Max,” Perez said post-race.

“We need to review because I got certainly the different information and I just couldn’t push it there.”