Helmut Marko is not one to mince words. In his interview with formel1.de, the head of Red Bull's driver development program claimed that Red Bull has the fastest car on the grid right now. The Austrian also said that he's already a fan of Sergio Perez and Yuki Tsunoda after the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Speaking about the first race of the season, Helmut Marko revealed the team faced a plethora of issues throughout the weekend that cost Red Bull at various stages.
The Austrian alluded to the damaged floor that Max Verstappen had to overcome in qualifying. He also spoke about a differential issue on Max Verstappen's car at the start of the race. According to Helmut Marko, Max Verstappen complained about a differential issue out of turn 1 of the Bahrain International Circuit. This could have played a role in Red Bull's inability to eke out a meaningful gap to the chasing Silver Arrows in the early stages of the race.
We lost up to three-tenths because of the issue: Helmut Marko
Speaking about the issues that plagued the team throughout the weekend, Helmut Marko said:
"In qualifying, as you saw, a part flew off because it went too wide in one corner. That made a small difference, maybe an 8% downforce loss. So it wasn’t a huge thing What was more serious at the beginning of the race was that there were problems in the differential area. In sector 1 we were drastically losing up to three-tenths per lap. The same was true for Pérez, by the way. Not only was there less grip, but the rear wheels were spinning and the tires were getting hot."
Speaking about the effects of the differential issue on race proceedings, Helmut Marko said:
“During this phase, we didn’t manage to open up the gap we would have needed to avoid an undercut. Instead, we lost 2.5 to 1.7 seconds. That was the decisive phase of the first stint, in which we were clearly disadvantaged."
The issues faced by the team throughout the weekend meant that despite having a faster car, Red Bull gave away the win to the reigning champions. Mercedes have had one of the most reliable cars during the turbo-hybrid era and that looks unlikely to change this season. If the team wants to challenge the reigning champions, Red Bull cannot afford to lose time in the race because of reliability issues. The team will look for a smoother, more reliable run at the next Grand Prix at Imola.