Mercedes Formula 1 team stood no chance at the Austrian Grand Prix, and even Max Verstappen is baffled by Red Bull’s dominance, but not so Dr Helmut Marko who makes an admission that Verstappen didn’t drive the F1 race on full power, but Lewis Hamilton did yet failed to keep pace.
Although Dr. Marko’s doctorate was in law and not in mathematics, he still did the maths after the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg.
“Within three races we have now scored 76 points,” he stated on Sky. Afterwards, a smile flitted across the face of the usually austere Red Bull chief advisor.
Perhaps this shows how proud the Austrians are of the two wins at the back-to-back home races in Spielberg, the sixth victory of the season and the fifth in a row.
Max Verstappen’s triumph at the Austrian GP was the most commanding of all Red Bull’s performances in the 2021 Formula 1 season.
Marko agrees: “I think that was the highlight of these last three races. This GP was even clearer than the two before. Max drove quite confidently in front.
“We then also reduced the pace a bit. We are now going to Silverstone with incredible confidence. There is no track we have to be afraid of. But still, we know how strong Mercedes is in general and we are prepared for more close battles.”
The man from Graz thus confirms what ex-Mercedes sports boss Norbert Haug had already addressed in an interview with the German press. Those who are as superior as Red Bull don’t always show all they have.
“We didn’t drive with full power at times, Hamilton did in certain phases. They try and still can’t get close to us. A reassuring situation for us.” said Marko,
Hamilton had to drive so much at the limit that he damaged his underbody. “I had massive damage,” confirmed the seven-time world champion. “I’m glad I was able to finish the race at all.”
The damage was said to have cost Hamilton half a second and 30 points of downforce per lap. And most importantly, it ruined the tyres so much that he had to go in for a second pit stop. In the end, nothing more than fourth place was possible for the ‘Black Arrows’ world championship contender.
“If you look at Max, he had an 18-second lead with two stops. They have an incredible performance and we have a lot of work to do to close that gap. It’s been quite a painful race but we’re keeping our heads up and trying to do our best.”
The statistics work against Hamilton in this regard, who now remains winless for five races in a row. The last time he had such a negative streak was in late 2017/early 2018, when he failed to win six GPs in a row.
Nevertheless, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff is more optimistic than his number one driver.
“We had a really good pace in the race,” says the Austrian. “If we hadn’t been held up by the McLaren for so long, we’d be racing for the win.”
And Wolff also doesn’t see the 32-point gap in the drivers’ championship as too close.
“There are still 14 races to go. I’m more of a glass-half-empty person, always sceptical. But in this case I have to look to build the team.
“We are only one retirement [by Verstappen] away from being back at the top. Both in the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.
“We have the gap and the worse package, but nothing is decided.”