Helmut Marko makes Max Verstappen Red Bull demand because of Pierre Gasly

Max Verstappen reacts to Honda's departure from Formula 1

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Red Bull chief Helmut Marko has demanded that his team look at improving Max Verstappen’s car ahead of the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix because the Dutchman’s qualifying times are similar to that of Pierre Gasly, who is driving an AlphaTauri.

Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton by eight points in the Drivers’ Championship with just two races remaining.

Whichever driver starts on pole position in Saudi Arabia next weekend will have the advantage of winning the race and seizing the title initiative.

Verstappen set the second quickest qualifying time – behind Hamilton – in Brazil last time out.

But Marko wants to see an improvement because Gasly not far behind while also in a Honda-powered car.

“Gasly was almost as fast in qualifying with AlphaTauri as Verstappen with Red Bull,” Marko told Sport 1.

“If car B is successful, then not everything could have gone well with car A. Red Bull has to perform better in Saudi Arabia.”

Verstappen can secure the title with race remaining if he wins the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix and Hamilton finishes no higher than seventh.

And Marko reckons his man has the advantage.

“We believe in Max’s potential on urban circuits,” he explained. “He won in Monaco and in Baku he was the clear dominator before his wheel problem.

“I think it can make a difference again.”

Despite Marko’s certainty, former F1 world champion Jenson Button cannot split the two title challengers.

“It’s rather exciting, isn’t it,” said Button on Sky Sports F1. “Two races to go, eight points in it, and two of the best drivers in the world that we’ve seen drive F1 cars.

“It’s extremely tight, and we don’t know which car is going to be quick at the next race [at the Jeddah Street Circuit].

“It’s an exciting track from what we’ve seen. It’s very fast, no room for error in Saudi Arabia, with all the barriers around the track which makes it even better.”

He added: “I’m still not going to get off the fence, and that’s why it’s awesome. I actually have no idea, both are doing a great job, teams are doing a great job,” Button added.

“It looks like Mercedes has the upper hand at the moment, but the next circuit is very different. And then obviously Abu Dhabi. We don’t know what to expect from that new layout either.”

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