Marko gives Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez orders for Austrian GP sprint

Max Verstappen will start the Austrian Grand Prix sprint race in first, with Sergio Perez down in P13.

Red Bull adviser Dr Helmut Marko has told Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez that tyre conservation will be vital in Saturday’s sprint race in Austria.

Verstappen took P1 with a mighty final sector on his final run in qualifying to beat the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, who looked set for a front row lockout after the Dutchman struggled in the first two sectors.

The 24-year-old pulled it all together to claim his prospective third pole of the season, as long as he can win the sprint.

READ: ‘It’s like being in driving school’: Helmut Marko calls for rule change

He will not get any immediate backup from team-mate Perez though after the Mexican struggled in the second qualifying session, and salvaged his place in Q3 with a late effort.

However, the stewards pulled him up for exceeding track limits on that run, so they invalidated all of his timed attempts in Q3, before deleting his best run in Q2.

The Mexican will start the sprint in P13 as a result, promoting Mercedes’ George Russell to fourth behind Sainz, while Pierre Gasly is promoted into the top 10.

READ: Horner suggests Red Bull could re-sign disgraced driver after controversial decision

Dr Marko got straight to the point when advising his drivers ahead of Saturday’s 24-lap race, calling for consistency and good tyre management.

Article continues below

“It will be very, very exciting on Saturday,” he said in conversation with Sky Germany. 

“Drive without mistakes and keep the tyres alive.”

The Austrian revealed that the team had made some setup changes to Verstappen’s car in Q3, as the RB18 was using up too much of its tyre life over the course of a lap.

“In the previous runs we had hardly any grip left from the tyres in the last sector. We used them too much and then adjusted,” explained Dr Marko.

Verstappen has won four of the last six races held in Spielberg, including both grand prix last year.