London, England – Dr Helmut Marko on Tuesday pointed a finger at the F1 rules amid the tension at Red Bull’s junior team.
Toro Rosso teen sensation Max Verstappen lost his cool with the Faenza team and team mate Carlos Sainz in Melbourne, after getting stuck behind the sister car.
Rules changed thrice
Dutchman Verstappen’s race went wrong amid communication misunderstandings with Toro Rosso and a pitstop in which his tyres weren’t ready.
“Everyone must ensure that such a thing does not happen again,” Austrian Marko, a key official for Red Bull’s F1 programmes, told Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.
“In defense of the team, it must be said that the radio rules were changed three times over the course of the weekend,” he added.
As for Verstappen’s foul-mouthed bad mood, Marko said the 18-year-old is “young, madly ambitious and emotional” but insisted the situation would be “clarified internally”.
He had to admit that, thanks to Toro Rosso’s Ferrari engine, the secondary team is a step ahead of premier outfit Red Bull Racing so far in 2016.
But Marko said that could change by Montreal, where a new Renault engine is due.
“Toro Rosso is fortunate to have a more powerful engine, but it will not be further developed,” he said.
“In qualifying Mercedes is in a league of its own, but they are vulnerable in the race when under pressure or in the event of any small problems.
“Ferrari has become stronger, but we are closer to Ferrari,” he added, referring to Red Bull Racing.
“If we really get a better (engine) package in Montreal, then we should be at least on par with Ferrari. Then the season will be pretty exciting after six to eight races,” Marko predicted.
‘Signs of immaturity’
However, his behaviour has been criticised. While tipped for greatness by most pundits, the 18-year-old “showed his age” at the 2016 season opener as he lost his cool, British commentator Martin Brundle said.
“These were the first signs of immaturity we have seen from Max,” 1996 world champion Damon Hill agreed.
Verstappen had raged repeatedly on the radio about the situation he called a “f—–g joke”, calling for team mate Carlos Sainz to be moved aside and even running into the back of the sister Toro Rosso.
But when asked if he would obey a similar order to pull over and let Sainz past, Verstappen answered: “To be honest, I don’t know and I don’t care.
“Normally I should be miles ahead,” he is quoted by the Times newspaper.
Well-known Spanish motor racing personality and former F1 driver Adrian Campos, however, said Verstappen was wrong to expect Sainz to be moved aside.
“I see some drivers today as sissies,” he told Cadena Ser radio. “You have to earn your place on the track. Team orders in the first race would be unfortunate but some have gotten used to it.
“I would tell Verstappen to stop asking for help and take his risks on the track,” Campos added.
Another well-known racer, Dutchman Tom Coronel, told De Telegraaf newspaper that the “anger” expressed by Verstappen in Melbourne was obvious in his driving.
“He was more aggressive than normal and he therefore made mistakes,” he said, adding that Max’s anger may have been misplaced.
“The team said he could overtake Sainz – it’s called racing!” said Coronel.