Helmut Marko believes that Ferrari’s inability to translate their qualifying performances into race pace will cost them a shot at victory once again at the Mexican Grand Prix, predicting that Max Verstappen will come through to win from third on the grid.
The reigning world champion couldn’t produce a significant enough improvement on his first Q3 run at the end of qualifying on Saturday, meaning he’ll start from third with Charles Leclerc narrowly beating Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz to pole position.
There was even less to celebrate on the other side of the Red Bull garage as Sergio Perez only managed a P5 finish. The 33-year-old is coming under increasing pressure and will no doubt be frustrated after qualifying behind AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo at his home race.
Speaking to Sky Germany after qualifying in Mexico City, Marko said: “Everyone knows this is a long race and in the early stages you don’t want to risk anything. And with these temperatures, that could also mean making one or two stops.
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“Also in terms of tyres, we are in good shape. And let’s face it, it would actually be the first time Ferrari has been able to keep pace over the entire race distance. Singapore was an exception. Sainz was able to slow down there because you can’t overtake in Singapore. He did a great job tactically, but this is a different race.”
Verstappen was also confident when asked about his chances for the Grand Prix. With the Russian Grand Prix off the calendar, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez boasts the longest run down to turn one on the F1 calendar, meaning the front row isn’t necessarily where you want to start if your intention is to lead the first lap of the race.
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The Dutchman knows this very well. He qualified third here in 2021 but was leading coming out of turn three after overtaking both Mercedes drivers at the race start.
“Nevertheless, it was still close and it’s a long race,” Verstappen said after climbing out of the cockpit at the end of qualifying on Saturday. “A lot of laps to be raced and that’s where you score the points. I am confident for tomorrow. Of course, I would like to start first but we will have a good slipstream down to Turn 1!”
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