Helmut Marko snubs Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

McLaren's Lando Norris finished second at Silverstone and at the Hungaroring.

Ahead of Saturday’s sprint race at the Belgian Grand Prix, Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko admitted that he views McLaren as the team’s biggest rivals.

McLaren’s revival since installing upgrades at the Austrian Grand Prix has been extraordinary, with the Woking-based side having showed remarkable pace ever since.

Lando Norris secured back-to-back podiums at the British Grand Prix and the Hungarian Grand Prix, with him having qualified in the top three at both.

He actually led the opening stages at the British GP, before he was overtaken by reigning World Champion Max Verstappen.

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With McLaren’s pace having been so strong recently, Marko openly admitted that he views the British team as being second in the pecking order, behind the Austrians.

Marko believes McLaren are not only quick but that they also have good “tyre wear”, giving them an advantage over Ferrari.

Despite this, he was confident of Red Bull’s chances ahead of the sprint.

“As it looks now, yes. Their tyre wear looks good,” Marko told Sky Sports Germany, when asked if McLaren are second in the pecking order.

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“Ferrari has problems over race distance. I was a bit surprised that Hamilton is not further in front. But let’s wait and see how the weather will be.”

Marko added: “The weekend is already more than halfway through, we have the relevant information. We are well positioned for the race.”

Marko was right to view McLaren as second in the pecking order, as Oscar Piastri finished second in the sprint behind Verstappen.

Piastri actually led the sprint race briefly, after pitting a lap before Verstappen for Intermediate tyres.

Verstappen remained on the Extreme Wets a lap longer than Piastri, which saw him fall behind the Australian.

Unsurprisingly though, the Dutchman caught the McLaren driver and overtook him relatively easily.

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As Sergio Perez retired from the sprint race following contact with Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen’s championship lead is now 118 points.

The two-time World Champion is simply unbeatable at the moment, as proven during the race.

Verstappen went from sixth to first in just 17 laps, after overtaking Perez for the lead with ease.