Red Bull Racing’s advisor, Dr. Helmut Marko, recently made a candid admission regarding a “communication error” that resulted in Sergio Perez interfering with Max Verstappen’s qualifying run at the United States Grand Prix. The incident unfolded during a challenging qualifying session at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), where Red Bull found themselves in an unfamiliar position, surrounded by their rivals from Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren.
Qualifying at the COTA presented an unusual scenario in the world of Formula 1. No single team demonstrated clear dominance on the Friday of qualifying, with the top-seven positions comprising drivers from five different teams. Red Bull, a team accustomed to front-row battles, had only one of their cars among the top-seven, albeit not in the top-five.
Verstappen, the Dutch sensation and Red Bull’s star driver, struggled in Q3, with his first lap only securing him the sixth spot on the grid. However, his final hot lap, which had the potential to secure pole position, was thwarted when he exceeded track limits on the exit of the penultimate corner.
Meanwhile, his teammate, Sergio Perez, had an equally disappointing run. Perez could only manage a ninth-place starting position, trailing both Alpine drivers.
The three-time World Champion, Max Verstappen, found himself perturbed by Perez’s actions during the qualifying session. Verstappen was particularly vexed as he approached the end of his flying lap while Perez was just beginning his own. This untimely sequence caused Verstappen’s car to experience turbulence from his teammate’s car, resulting in a challenging final turn.
Verstappen, in the heat of the moment, voiced his frustration over the radio. However, Dr. Helmut Marko, the Red Bull advisor, later took responsibility for the incident, acknowledging that it was a team error.
“We knew it was going to be tight [in qualifying, but on Max’s] first lap in Q3, Checo got in the way,” Marko told ServusTV. “It was a communication error, and on the second run at Turn 1, there was a lock-up, and it’s tragic when you drop from first to sixth place. The cars in front of [Max] are all strong opponents, and it will be a tough race.”
The United States Grand Prix at the COTA, much like the Singapore Grand Prix, saw Red Bull facing an unusual lack of dominance. Dr. Helmut Marko attributed this to the bumpy track surface at COTA, which seems to affect the Austrian team more than their competitors. Despite these challenges, Marko expressed his confidence in Red Bull’s race performance.
“The bumps hurt us more than others; we couldn’t drive with the ride height we planned,” Marko explained. “But in the long run, we can make up some ground. On Sunday, the temperature should be very high, and tire wear should come into play, which is a strength of ours.”