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Helmut Marko

Marko: Verstappen eased Red Bull fear in Sprint

The World Champion cruised to a second Sprint win of the season after roaring past Oscar Piastri on a Safety Car restart.

Helmut Marko has revealed Max Verstappen's instant pass of Oscar Piastri allayed Red Bull's overtaking fear in the Belgian Grand Prix Sprint.

Once the race started, Piastri pitted from second for a switch to Intermediates, but pole-sitter Verstappen did not as Red Bull felt he would be held up in the box as other cars pitted.

Verstappen completed a lap on the full Wets, before emerging from his stop about 1.5s behind leader Piastri, although the race was quickly neutralised after Fernando Alonso spun off at Pouhon with the Safety Car being deployed on Lap 3.

Owing to the multiple formation laps, the race was shortened to 11 laps, with the restart coming on Lap 5, leaving Verstappen six racing laps with which to pass Piastri.

He roared past the Australian on the Kemmel Straight at the first attempt, going onto take a comfortable win.

Marko's fear

"Max passed him relatively easily, despite the McLaren having more downforce," Marko explained.

"We actually expected them to be stronger in the rain, and we were a bit worried about the Safety Car coming out and wondered if there would be enough laps left to attack, but Max did it flawlessly."

Red Bull Motorsport Advisor Marko also touched on the decision taken to pit Sergio Perez on the first lap but keep Verstappen out.

"It was a strategic choice, and it was the best choice," he said.

"We deliberately chose to enter the pits with Checo first because we expected a lot of cars in the pit-lane.

"Because we have the first pit box, the risk was greater for us as we didn't know who else would come in.

"It worked well for both cars, but it is a pity that Perez had significant damage to his car."

F1 2023 Belgian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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