Helmut Marko has revealed the foundations that are underpinning Max Verstappen’s success this season, pointing to the team’s immense performance in the pit-stop sequences, as well as bulletproof reliability and a unique relationship with race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.
The Dutch driver has been unbeatable at the front of the field since Sergio Perez clinched victory on the streets of Baku, winning eight consecutive Grands Prix to put his third successive world title beyond any reasonable doubt heading into the summer break.
Verstappen now finds himself just a single Grand Prix victory away from levelling Sebastian Vettel’s run of nine straight wins during his remarkable 2013 season, and unless Checo can close up the gap between the Red Bull duo, the Dutchman could go on to break that record emphatically.
Lewis Hamilton has been unable to challenge Verstappen with his Mercedes way off the pace. But the Brit has now been told that his rival’s dominance is not only down to his superior car.
Speaking to Motorsport.com about the secrets behind Red Bull and Verstappen’s domination, Marko revealed: “He thinks about all the overtaking moves and can read the races incredibly well. That is what you hear in these conversations with his race engineer as well.
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“It is unbelievable what he is showing at the moment, but that goes for the whole team. There is almost no pitstop slower than 2.5 seconds, the strategy is fine, and we haven’t had technical issues so far, so the entire team is doing an unbelievable job.”
Marko’s faith in the team is well-placed. During the first 12 rounds of the season, the Red Bull crew picked up the DHL Fastest Pit Stop award on six occasions, with four of those stops coming in the past seven races.
These advantages have allowed the team to squeeze the maximum out of their advantage this season, showcased best in Austria, when Verstappen was able to confidently pit from the lead with a couple of laps remaining and emerge mere seconds ahead of Charles Leclerc, before snatching the fastest lap point for his tally.
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However, these things alone are not enough to win races and championships. In spite of its many weaknesses, the W13 was an incredibly reliable car with Hamilton’s DNF at the final round of the season being Mercedes’ only mechanical failure of the 2022 season.
Despite this, the lack of consistent race pace stopped the legendary Briton from regularly battling for wins. With Verstappen and the RB19, Red Bull have the perfect combination of driver talent and machinery. The team’s dominance will likely continue long into the 2024 season and beyond with the Dutch driver totally in tune with his car in a manner that mirrors Hamilton’s own period of dominance during the 2010s.
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