Helmut Marko has backed Sergio Perez's start to the Mexico City Grand Prix weekend while also dismissing McLaren's chances against Red Bull.
While Perez was about three-tenths slower than team-mate and pace-setter Max Verstappen in the second session, it was a better Friday than some in the season for the home driver as he seeks to secure second place in the standings.
Red Bull Motorsport Advisor Marko has been critical of Perez at times owing to his lack of pace on a Friday, but the Austrian-backed Perez's showing as Red Bull turned around a tricky opening session at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with Perez fifth fastest.
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Marko praises Perez
"Three-tenths behind [Verstappen] is already a very good sign for a Friday," Marko told Motorsport Magazine.
"A home Grand Prix like this is motivating, and you are in a better mood right away.
"The long-run problems have been resolved as the front tyres completely [fell away] during the first practice session.
"We got that under control [in the second] and both short and long runs look good."
Norris was just a tenth behind Verstappen in the FP2 times, but despite that result and the recent strong form for the McLaren - Marko was sure that the MCL60 would not present a challenge.
"Over the race distance (71 laps), I don't think he can keep up the pace [of Verstappen]," Marko added.
"It is still better than Oscar Piastri, as the tyre wear goes through the roof for him."