Odd reason struggling Ferrari star is hurting Red Bull
Red Bull‘s hopes of securing a second consecutive world championship are being impeded by Carlos Sainz so far failing to compete with his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, says chief advisor Helmut Marko.
Whilst he finished on the podium in the opening two races, Sainz was substantially behind Leclerc in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. This is proving costly for Red Bull as they bank on the pair stealing points away from each other.
Last year, Sainz finished 5.5 points ahead of Leclerc in the driver standings after leapfrogging his partner with a dominant run home.
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Speaking to Formel1.de, Marko said the early performances of Sainz were not helping Red Bull’s efforts.
“I was pleasantly surprised last year that he [Sainz] was on the same level as Leclerc, and I was actually hoping that it would be the same this year,” he said.
“But you could already see it in the tests, and you could also see it in the race, that he’s missing about three to four-tenths.
“And that is a disadvantage for us because we believed that the two [Ferrari drivers] would take points away from each other. That is not the case at the moment.
“But Sainz is an intelligent, fast man. I assume he will sort things out accordingly and then hopefully get a boost.”
While this could trigger alarm bells for Red Bull, causing the team to prioritise reigning world champion Max Verstappen in their driver line-up, Marko said that this early in the season, the team is allowing both drivers to push for wins.
This was reflected in their race plan at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix where Sergio Perez took his maiden F1 pole before dropping down the order in the race following an early pitstop.
“That was made clear before the [Saudi] race, that at such an early stage when both still had zero points, there would be no team orders whatsoever,” he said.
“There was this theory that Ferrari forced us to make an early pit stop, but that wasn’t the case – it was just the tyre wear on Perez was significantly higher than on Max.
“Perhaps that was also due to the initial pace because he was up to three seconds ahead at times and we had to bring him in earlier.
“Also on the hard tyre, Max’s speed was significantly higher than Perez’s, so I think that would have taken care of itself.”
Asked if he felt Perez was closer to Verstappen because of the new design of the car, Marko said: “If you look at teams, it’s different. Some drivers have gotten closer, with Ferrari it’s the opposite.”
“I think with Perez, there are two factors. First, the car suits him more, so he feels more comfortable. And secondly, the team knows him better. His race engineer has also grown with the task, so there’s more self-confidence, more know-how. And in general, we are very happy that this development has taken place.”
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