Helmut Marko is thriving in the positivity surrounding Red Bull's resurgence in Formula 1. For the first time since 2013, the team can claim to have the fastest car on the grid. Helmut Marko is not one to mince words. Speaking about the Bahrain Grand Prix, the Austrian said that Max Verstappen's gap to Lewis Hamilton surprised him at the end of qualifying.
Max Verstappen pulled out a four-tenths gap to Lewis Hamilton in the final run of Q3. Red Bull had the fastest car throughout the pre-season test at the same track and also dominated all sessions prior to qualifying. However, the Dutchman pulled off the lap despite having floor damage on his car. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner estimated the damage to be worth one-tenth of a second per lap.
Speaking about Verstappen's qualifying performance, Helmut Marko said:
“The four-tenths surprised us, we thought we were two-tenths ahead. In fast corners, our concept should show even more clearly. And at Bahrain, there are no really fast corners that challenge the chassis."
We have a car that works everywhere: Helmut Marko
Red Bull has historically struggled at the Bahrain Grand Prix in the turbo-hybrid era. With this in mind, Helmut Marko revealed that the Bahrain International Circuit was never a true reflector of the car's pace. The team's advantage in Sakhir now means that Red Bull has a car that is good at every type of track.
"We now simply have a car that works all around," said Helmut Marko.
When questioned about how Red Bull turned the tables on Mercedes, Marko said it was a result of the team carrying their learnings from last season's car. Red Bull worked at understanding the car's weaknesses and eradicating them.
The 77-year-old said:
"We saw where we were weakening. We had a set of specifications: the first point was to be ready in the first minute of the first practice and to go out with a competitive car. We managed to do that."
However, Helmut Marko refused to go into the details of the changes made to the car:
“Then we knew where the weak points were in the past. We have known an unsettled car in detail since Austria. But I won’t go into detail about what we did.”
Helmut Marko's confidence in the car could mean that Red Bull have a car that is the class of the field for now. However, ruling out a Mercedes resurgence would be foolish. Red Bull had the fastest car in Bahrain, but failed to take the win. The team cannot afford to lose out on more opportunities to take victories this season.