Marko fires jibe at Sainz and Perez despite Saudi GP pole

Red Bull and Ferrari have been in thrillingly close competition in the first two races of the 2022 Formula 1 season.

Dr Helmut Marko has fired a jibe at Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez, despite the Mexican outqualifying Max Verstappen at the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc has beaten Carlos Sainz in both the qualifying and race battle in each of the opening two rounds of the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, while Verstappen outscored Perez in Jeddah after the polesitter lost three positions due to an ill-timed Safety Car.

Having pulled a gap over the struggling Mercedes by virtue of their adeptness in the new regulations, Dr Marko notes that his team’s rival is now the Scuderia, and he appears to prefer it that way.

“It’s a completely different atmosphere,” he said in an interview with Servus TV.

“Ferrari is like us. There is passion, there is emotion, sportiness and respect. And you can feel that in all areas.

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“We have a competitive relationship, but with sporting rules. And that is not only noticeable with the drivers, but also in the technical coordination or design. You can exchange ideas with Ferrari. It’s pleasant.”

The Austrian indicated that Ferrari’s adaptability to different track types and contrasting conditions is better than that of the Milton Keynes squad.

“Ferrari has the most universal car. It’s quick the first time under all circumstances, with every type of tire and at every temperature,” he explained.

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Despite being out-qualified 13-9 and out-raced 14-8, Sainz managed to outpeform Leclerc in the championship standings last season after scoring four podiums, so the 78-year-old recognises that the Spaniard will be no pushover.

“Last year Sainz beat Leclerc, but this year Leclerc is in top form. That means we can’t expect any support from Sainz . So it will be a situation like ours, where there is a very clear number 1 driver,” Dr Marko said, suggesting that they may require Perez to play a backup role this year.

Mercedes have struggled so far in 2022, and Sir Lewis Hamilton had an absymal weekend in Saudi Arabia, with him getting knocked out of Q1 and finishing the race in P10.

This came after Hamilton made changes to the set-up of his car ahead of qualifying in Jeddah, but he suffered from an “undriveable” car and qualified in P16.

Dr Marko has no doubt that the Silver Arrows will get to the bottom of the numerous aerodynamic issues they are dealing with, and will join the lead battle soon enough.

“[Hamilton] messed up the vote and sometimes drove like [the car] was on ice. I’m convinced that they will fix that in the course of the next races,” he added.

“They will come for sure. And that will probably end in a three-way battle.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has previously described the Mercedes and Red Bull cars as the “most overweight,” after the new technical regulations made the cars even heavier.

Red Bull have an upgrade lined up to help address the problem which will be introduced at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Dr Marko divulged exactly how much performance their excess weight is costing them.

“Our car is too heavy. If you are ten kilos over the minimum weight, that’s between three and a half and four tenths on a track like Saudi Arabia,” he stated.

However, he highlighted the importance of making sure the new parts are designed, manufactured and applied correctly, as they cannot afford to spend extortionate amounts on unsuitable parts given the added financial stringencies this season.

“Reducing weight means more expensive materials that are lighter, and you also have to make new parts,” he said.

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They will be using light materials “in order to stay within this financial framework [because] we cannot build parts twice,” according to Dr Marko.

The next race will take place in Melbourne on 10 April, two weeks before Red Bull’s updates are placed onto the car in Imola.