Helmut Marko believes Sergio Perez inadvertenly blocked Max Verstappen during United States Grand Prix qualifiying, costing him one-and-a-half tenths.
On his first flying lap in Q3 in Austin, Verstappen rounded the final sequence of corners, just as Perez was beginning on his own fast lap - complaining over the team radio at the apparent mix-up.
Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton both went faster on the first runs, with Verstappen's second attempt being messy thanks to a lock-up at Turn 1 before the time was ultimately deleted for track limits at Turn 19.
It would have bee good enough for pole by 0.005s for Verstappen who now starts sixth with Perez down in ninth in a tricky session for Red Bull.
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Marko explains Red Bull qualifying
"We knew it was going to be tight [in qualifying but on Max's] first lap in Q3, Checo got in the way," Motorsport Advisor Marko told ServusTV.
"It was a communication error, and on the second run at Turn 1, there was a lock-up and it's tragic when you drop from first to sixth place.
"The cars in front of [Max] are all strong opponents and it will be a tough race."
It was an off-session for Red Bulls - with Marko hinting that the comparative lack of performance from the RB19 was down the bumpy Austin track surface.
"The bumps hurt us more than others, we couldn't drive with the rideheight we planned," he said.
"But in the long run, we can make up some ground. "On Sunday, the temperature should be very high, and ty wear should come into play, which is a strength of ours."
As for Perez's performance, Marko noted a "clear improvement" from the Mexican who is "always stronger in the race than in qualifying."