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Helmut Marko

Marko fears Red Bull Austrian GP 'tough time'

Red Bull could be in for a very challenging Austrian Grand Prix, according to its advisor.

Verstappen race Spain
Article
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko fears that the Milton Keynes-based team could be in for a "tough time" this weekend at the Austrian Grand Prix, due to the sprint format. 

The sprint format returns this weekend at the Red Bull Ring, meaning only one practice session will take place. 

A big positive for Red Bull is that they enter this weekend on the back of Max Verstappen winning the Spanish Grand Prix, despite not being the fastest driver or in the fastest car.

Getting ahead of Lando Norris on the run to the first corner was key to the Dutchman's win, according to Marko. 

"Max once again made the difference and took victory with a car that was not the fastest," Marko explained in his weekly Speedweek column. 

"He started on used tyres, while Lando had new ones on his car. He then pushed Max onto the grass at the start with a manoeuvre that was more than sideways. 

"This opened the door for Russell, who took full advantage of the slipstream in the relatively long run-up to the first corner and took the lead. 

"I think if Lando had stayed in front at the start, we wouldn't have won the race. But because of the start he fell back to third position behind Russell and Max."

 Something else which was key to Verstappen's 61st career victory was Red Bull's typically exceptional pit stops, which Marko congratulated the team for. 

"The tyre changes went very well, I can't remember the last time we messed up a pit-stop," added Marko. "All credit goes to Jonathan Wheatley and his motivated crew of mechanics. 

"They are a well-coordinated and well-trained team. Hannah Schmitz also deserves praise, she always makes clear decisions."

Marko hopes for strong Mercedes

Red Bull's focus now turns entirely to its home race, which it takes a 60-point lead into over Ferrari. However, Ferrari is no Red Bull's big threat in Marko's eyes, that is McLaren and Norris. 

It was, of course, the 2023 Austrian GP where McLaren introduced its significant upgrades package, which started its current rise to the top of F1. 

Not only does Red Bull need to manage the threat of Norris in particular, it also has to deal with the sprint format that tends to cause issues for Verstappen and Sergio Perez this season.

"Another challenge awaits us," continued Marko. "Max always has a chance to win, but we are running a sprint weekend there and that means we only have one session to tune the car. 

"The last few races we have always needed all three practice sessions to get the car balanced, so if this problem persists, we could be in for a tough time.

And last year McLaren's resurgence took shape at the Red Bull Ring. They brought their upgrade there and from then on they were fast. But Max drives practically flawless, thank God Lando can't do that yet. 

"But he remains our biggest rival. So I hope Mercedes gets stronger and becomes the second strongest team for a while. That would definitely help us in the championship."

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