Helmut Marko believes Ferrari have been hit with the same tyre graining problems that struck Red Bull in Australia.
Pole-sitter Max Verstappen saw Charles Leclerc pass him in front of the loyal Tifosi at the start of Saturday's Sprint race at Imola, only for the Dutchman to fight back and claim victory.
Verstappen was able to do so with Leclerc complaining of graining on his tyres, leaving him much slower during the final few laps.
Marko: Red Bull were a lap away from a 1-2
Red Bull encountered identical graining issues last time out in Melbourne, according to Marko, as Ferrari romped to victory – but now the tables appear to have turned.
"The graining problems that we had in Australia hit Ferrari here," said Red Bull advisor Marko, speaking to ServusTV.
"One more lap and then Perez (who finished 1.8 seconds behind Leclerc) would have been passed too."
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Red Bull confident ahead of Sunday's race
The result means that Verstappen will start at the front for Sunday's Grand Prix, ahead of Leclerc, with Ferrari set for a long night analysing their tyre issues in the Imola paddock.
"You can only change the wing [in parc ferme conditions], so that doesn't matter, and we drove behind, which means higher demands [on the car and tyres]," said a confident Marko.
"We were fast in the rain and we are fast in the dry."
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RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher look back over the Australian Grand Prix, where Ferrari's Charles Leclerc triumphed and Red Bull's Max Verstappen retired.