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Marko: Red Bull are facing hardest period in ‘a long time’

Marko: Red Bull are facing hardest period in ‘a long time’

After only seven race weekends this year, there have been as many race winners as there were in the whole of the 2023 season

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Red Bull Team Director, Helmut Marko has admitted that the team now face their hardest test.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 leads Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Max Verstappen leads Lando Norris during the 2024 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit. (Image Credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images on Red Bull Content Pool)

Max Verstappen claimed his fifth race win of the season at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. However, the reigning champion was put under pressure until the chequered flag by Lando Norris.

Closing the gap

Unlike much of last season, Verstappen has faced a challenge in the first third of 2024. The Dutchman may have won five of the first seven races, but the gap to his competitors behind is gradually closing, particularly since McLaren’s upgrade package in Miami.

The three-time world champion was met with fierce competition from Norris, who came perilously close to claiming his second race win in Imola. The young Briton secured his maiden win two weeks prior at Miami.

After Red Bull were pressured, PlanetF1 reports that Marko believes the team has Verstappen to thank for victory in Imola. He stated:

“Max doesn’t even make a small mistake, despite so much pressure from behind. We win here thanks to him and because he took pole position on Saturday. For example, if we had been third on the grid here, we could have forgotten about the win.”

However, Marko then addressed Red Bull’s struggles in Imola. He explained:

“Both over one lap and during the long runs, we struggled to find the balance. Normally, it’s one or the other.”

The former Austrian racing driver also acknowledged that the team’s recent domination could be fading. He shared:

“We have been able to turn things around more often during a weekend, but it hasn’t been as bad as it is now for a long time.”

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez also struggled in Imola. The Mexican driver finished in P8 after placing eleventh in Saturday’s qualifying session.

Betting on red in Monte Carlo?

Formula 1 is set for its second European race of the season this weekend at the Monaco Grand Prix. The track has been fruitful for Red Bull in recent years, winning the three previous races in the billionaires’ playground.

However, Marko believes this weekend’s event will not be as straightforward as previous years. According to PlanetF1, the Team Director expects a challenge from not only McLaren but also Ferrari, in particular Charles Leclerc at his home race. He said:

“We definitely have to take on the challenge with McLaren. And now we’re going to Monaco and there it’s almost all about qualifying. I think that will be the most difficult race for us so far, also because of the bumps and kerbstones there.”

He continued:

“I expect a lot from Ferrari and especially from Charles Leclerc.”

The Monegasque driver has come close to claiming victory in his home nation on several occasions. However, he is yet to stand on the podium’s top step at a Monaco Grand Prix.

Featured Image Credit: @FastestPitStop on Twitter

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