‘We really feel sorry for them’: Helmut Marko says Ferrari are ‘below their value’ as Mattia Binotto faces axe

Red Bull Racing lead Ferrari by 97 points in the Constructors' Championship.

Red Bull Racing have taken a monster lead into the summer break, with the Austrian side now 97 points ahead of Ferrari, following on from the Italian team making yet another costly error at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

However, the story of the Hungarian GP was the remarkable comeback drive from reigning World Champion Max Verstappen, who won the race at the Hungaroring despite starting P10.

Victory meant the Dutchman extended his Drivers’ Championship lead to 80 points, meaning he could now miss the next three races and still lead by at least two points.

Red Bull senior advisor Dr Helmut Marko wants to see Verstappen receive more appreciation for his performance in Hungary, at a circuit where overtaking isn’t meant to be possible.

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“I just want to see Max’s performance appreciated enough,” Marko told Austrian newspaper Osterreich.

“After the bad luck in qualifying, he won from 10th on a track where you are supposed to have no chance from behind. If he had been in front, he would have been up and away again.”

Verstappen has approached 2022 completely differently to 2021, where he was erratic and at times considered dirty.

This season he has remained calm, in control, and crucially mature, all of which have seen him lead the championship by an incredible margin.

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Marko doesn’t recognise the 2022 version of Verstappen but admits his improved maturity has made life “easier” for the entire team.

“When we brought Max into Formula 1 at 17, he was the greatest talent I’ve ever come across but he was too impulsive,” Marko admitted.

“With the victories, he gained in maturity. When he kept his cool at the start in Budapest while overtaking, I thought ‘is that really Max sitting in there?’ With this maturity, he makes it easier for the whole crew.”

The racing itself has also been completely different to last season, where both Red Bull and the Mercedes F1 Team were constantly on edge due to the aggressiveness of Verstappen’s and Sir Lewis Hamilton’s battles.

This year, Verstappen and Charles Leclerc’s duels have been much cleaner, something which has made the season more enjoyable for Marko.

“It has rarely been so much fun,” he said.

“Almost every weekend is a pleasure, quite different from last season when everything cost a lot of nerves. It’s just a bit of a shame Ferrari make so many mistakes.

“They are below their value, we really feel sorry for them. But again, they will be back, they have such a strong car.”

Verstappen and Leclerc would’ve had many more battles in the first half of the season, had it not been for Ferrari’s plethora of strategic errors.

Should Ferrari lose both championships, then they’ll only have themselves to blame.

The Scuderia have cracked under pressure consistently, with Leclerc usually being the driver who is punished the most from the Italian team’s failure.

Leclerc has lost the race lead three times just from strategic errors, with the most recent one coming at Hungary.

Had Leclerc claimed victory on the three occasions, then the championship would be far from finished.

However, it’s safe to say that Verstappen has one hand on defending his title, with another Ferrari mistake highly likely.

Marko isn’t prepared to relax just yet, but admitted that Ferrari are doing “pretty much everything wrong”.

“Don’t say that,” Marko replied when asked if the team could lean back and relax.

“We have nine races left, that’s 225 points for nine possible wins plus sprint and fastest laps. No, we really can’t lean back yet.

“[Ferrari are] doing pretty much everything wrong. In Budapest, for example, they didn’t give the tyres the right temperature window for the first time and also chose the wrong pit strategy.”

Ferrari’s strategic error at the Hungaroring was one of their most bizarre yet, after deciding to fit Leclerc with a set of Hard tyres rather than a set of used Mediums.

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Pirelli advised all the teams not to use the hardest compound, with the track temperature being particularly cool due to rain before the race.

It’s believed Ferrari opted for the Hards after not having a new set of Mediums; however, Marko doesn’t buy this excuse.

“Then I don’t understand why they didn’t take used mediums,” he said.

“They would have been even better. So you celebrate Toto [Wolff] and Mercedes as big winners with places two and three.”