During qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix, Max Verstappen could not come close to pole position. Lewis Hamilton was almost half a second faster, which painted a troubling picture for the races to come. Helmut Marko, however, thinks that Red Bull can still compete with Mercedes and Hamilton during the race itself.
“Our race pace was significantly better than our pace in qualifying,” said the Red Bull adviser at Auto, Motor und Sport. The advantage of Mercedes on the long straights has decreased considerably, according to Marko. “We are closer in terms of top speeds. For the first time in weeks we are not at a disadvantage.”
Red Bull ‘stuck’ in Qatar
In the Qatar GP, Verstappen was able to clock the same times as his title rival, although the Dutchman could not come close to Hamilton. The grid penalty that forced him to start on P7 did not help. “Maybe we could have cracked them with an undercut,” said Marko. However, Mercedes reacted immediately to Verstappen’s pit stops.
“As a result, our tactical options immediately disappeared.” Pushing in the final phase of the race to close the gap with Hamilton was also not an option, according to Marko. “If Max were to attack, there would be a counter-attack from Hamilton immediately. It would be very risky to somehow get close.”
In the end, an extra pit stop was chosen for Verstappen, with which he could clock the fastest race lap.