Hamilton warned Mercedes’ reliability is not as strong as it seems

Max Verstappen holds a commanding advantage in the championship after nine rounds of the 2022 season.

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has urged his team to stay vigilant as they continue their surge for 2022 championship glory.

The Austrian side made a less than ideal start to the season as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez both retired from the Bahrain Grand Prix with fuel pick-up issues, before the Dutchman was the victim of another failure in Melbourne.

Charles Leclerc won both of those races for Ferrari, although sandwiched in between was a Verstappen win in Saudi Arabia after a brilliant battle for the lead between the two 24-year-olds.

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Since then, Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz have suffered three failures between them, and Leclerc’s second issue in the space of three rounds in Baku put him at the back of the grid in Canada after he was forced to take on an entirely new power unit.

Red Bull have taken charge of the season, partly due to Ferrari’s woes, but mainly due to the remarkable pace they have shown since they brought upgrades to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The Milton Keynes-based team have won all of the last six between Verstappen and Perez, whose gearbox failure in Canada as the reigning champion won the race was further reminder that the tide could yet swing again.

Dr Marko, at 79 years of age, has plenty of experience of how big a role reliability can play over the course of a season, so he hopes to stay on top of it for the next 13 rounds.

“The main thing is you have to finish and avoid those reliability things,” he told Autosport.

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“We have an unbelievable run now, normally in the first half of the season we were always catching up and now are dominating. 

“You have to say that if you win seven races out of the first nine, that is domination.

“Reliability is always a concern if you have a car that is so much on the limit, you see that at Ferrari. 

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“The only ones who don’t have a technical DNF yet is Mercedes, but they had to lift during some races because of overheating problems.”

The Austrian stated that immediately going into push mode with cars that are completely unknown is always going to be a challenge, as the teams have done this year.

“You must, of course, not forget that these are completely new and heavier cars,” explained Dr Marko.

“You have almost no test time and immediately go to the limit, that’s where the outages come in. 

“We’re relatively okay, well, on second thought, we’re not okay at all! Four outages so far is just too much, but we’re working on it.”

Red Bull sit 76 points clear of Ferrari after Verstappen pipped Sainz to victory in Canada, as Leclerc recovered to fifth having started at the back.

The Dutchman holds a 46-point advantage over team-mate Perez, with Leclerc a further three back.