Helmut Marko has revealed that Red Bull were almost caught out by a pre-race temperature issue with their fuel at the Spanish Grand Prix, a problem that could have destroyed their race before it even began.
The team caught the eye ahead of the event on Sunday, when both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez only left the pits with moments to spare ahead of the pit lane closure.
This was to allow Red Bull time to run the engines to heat up the fuel in the garage, although the reason given by the squad was that some fixes were being made to their DRS (Drag Reduction System) flaps.
The technical regulations state that fuel must be a maximum of 10 degrees cooler than the air temperature two hours ahead of the race start. In the case of the Spanish Grand Prix, this meant that fuel must not fall below 25 degrees celsius.
"We had overlooked that the temperature had been changed," Marko told F1-Insider.com, with the rule only changing for Spain after a standard minimum temperature of 18 degrees applied up until the Miami Grand Prix.
"But we noticed it in time and let the engine run to warm up the petrol."
Speaking to Sky Sports on Sunday, Marko had revealed some last-minute panic, although didn't detail the exact cause: "The high temperatures today required some last-minute adjustments."
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Ferrari take note of the incident
While the RB18 never touched the tarmac of the circuit while the fuel was below the required temperature, Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto pointed out that he believes the rules should apply while the car is in the garage.
"I don't think trying to heat up the fuel tank is sufficient [with the regulations] because the fuel should, at all times during the event, be within 10 degrees," Binotto told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"I can only trust the FIA."
Asked about whether Red Bull could have gained an advantage by running a colder fuel through their engine, even if not on track, Binotto said: "I am pretty sure the FIA are comfortable, as they checked. We should ask the FIA. I would be curious."
With such a minor faux pas seemingly dealt with, Ferrari's response has caught Marko's attention. The Red Bull advisor believes it is indicative of the title fight heating up: "Ferrari has
their sights set on us, but that's okay."
F1 Podcast: Did off-track matters ruin the spectacle at the Spanish GP?
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth discuss the Spanish Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen won a thrilling race after Charles Leclerc retired. But was the on-track action soured by a poor fan experience at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?