Max Verstappen at fault for difficult start to season as Red Bull chief shifts blame

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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko believes Max Verstappen’s ‘aggressive’ driving style does not suit the new cars in the 2022 Formula One season. The team have struggled in the opening weeks of the campaign, with 2021 world champion Verstappen retiring twice. 

The Dutchman has endured a difficult start to 2022. Issues with his car forced him to retire in both the Bahrain and Australian Grands Prix, although a win at the Saudi Arabian GP was sandwiched between. 

Verstappen is now sixth in the world championship standings. Instead, Ferrari are threatening to run away with the world title as Mercedes are also struggling for performance. 

And Red Bull chief Marko believes the team’s issues could be partially blamed on Verstappen. The 24-year-old has an aggressive driving style that the 78-year-old thinks is not suited to the new cars. 

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Asked why Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is faster than team-mate Carlos Sainz, Marko told F1 Insider: “Oddly enough, we have the opposite effect. Sergio Perez is much closer to Max than was the case in 2021. The simplest explanation for this is: the new cars with less downforce suit some drivers better and others less. 

“Sainz is an intelligent, very hard worker. He will work off his backlog in the future. In Australia he was closer, but then he was unlucky with the red flag and later with the steering wheel. Perez is very happy with the setup of the car. 

“Max finds it even harder. He hasn’t found the right balance yet and therefore doesn’t have the fullest confidence in the car. His aggressive driving style doesn’t quite go together with the new cars.”

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Verstappen controversially won his first title in 2021, overtaking Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the final race in Abu Dhabi. However, the driver has insisted that he has been given little reason to believe that successive championships are possible. 

“These kinds of things, if you want to fight for the title, cannot happen. We need to be faster than them, which we’re not. And have zero problems with the car, which we also don’t have.

“So it’s going to be a big task. At the moment, there is no reason to believe in it.”

Verstappen will hope for a better result at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix this weekend. It was the first race he won last season on his way to the world title. 

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