(Motorsport-Total.com) – So far in the 2022 Formula 1 season, Max Verstappen has been in a league of his own. After 20 races of the season, the team won the title, 14 Grand Prix successes and a 136-point lead over runner-up Sergio Pérez.
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Helmut Marko congratulates Max Verstappen on his win in France
While Charles Leclerc in particular defied the Red Bull drivers in the first third of the season, Ferrari lost pace as time went on after making some serious mistakes and being slowed by reliability.
For Red Bull’s motorsport consultant Helmut Mark, it is clear that Verstappen is right at the top of Formula 1 with his performances. He sees only two other drivers at the level of the Dutchman “halfway”, as the Austrian says in an interview with ‘RTL’.
Apart from Leclerc, the motorsport consultant sees only Lewis Hamilton on a similar level to Verstappen, who has waged an epic world championship battle with the Red Bull driver in 2021. For the Dutchman, Hamilton is a “stronger challenger”.
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“Hamilton has a clear advantage in terms of experience, he can motivate himself incredibly and I’m also convinced that Mercedes will build a better car next year,” said Marko, who also agreed to praise Verstappen.
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“He drives more confidently than ever, with more insight, at the same time he has developed into a tire whisperer. For example, he goes longer on a soft tire than the competition on a harder compound.”
“He gets in the car, he’s so confident from the first practice, from the first lap. You see when it’s wet, in the first laps he’s two seconds faster than the rest of the field, he has to get close to everyone first. ” explains Marko.
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But at the beginning of the season it looked a little different. Verstappen was strong as usual, but to the surprise of many, his teammate Sergio Perez was much closer than usual. Over time, however, normality returned to the Red Bull camp, as the Mexican is now mostly without a chance against Verstappen.
This was mainly due to the changed handling of the RB18 over the course of the season. While Red Bull still tended to understeer due to excess weight at the start of the season, the updates made Red Bull more agile, which played more into Verstappen’s hands.
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Marko explains that the Dutchman needs a car “that is very toxic on the front axle”. “What the rear does doesn’t affect him so much, it’s just that the other riders are nervous,” he adds. If the Red Bull Verstappen 2023 team “provides the necessary material and the necessary car”, according to Mark, “further fantasies are possible”.