Helmut Marko reveals Max Verstappen risk which almost put British GP win in jeopardy

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen speaking with Lando Norris after qualifying. Britain July 2023

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko says the decision to put Max Verstappen on softs for the his final British GP stint was a “risk” which thankfully did not cost him victory.

There commonly are winners and losers in Formula 1 when a Safety Car is deployed, and when Kevin Magnussen brought his Haas challenger to a halt on Lap 33, this situation was no different.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was a big gainer, jumping ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri into the podium spots, and he was now armed with the soft compound tyre for his final stint, with Lando Norris in the other McLaren ahead having pitted for hard tyres. Race leader Verstappen also pitted for soft tyres.

Max Verstappen had soft tyres which were ‘wearing out’

在最初的几圈后比赛时候伸出rt, it looked like McLaren had cost Norris dear as the grippier soft rubber helped Hamilton to launch several almost attempts at an overtake, all while Verstappen was pulling away to re-establish his lead.

From there though the situation came back towards Norris, Hamilton dropping off as he complained of his tyres losing performance, and the chequered flag would come just in time as Piastri prepared to launch an attack to reclaim the podium spot he felt was rightly his.

And according to Marko, Verstappen was far from immune from those late struggles on the soft tyre, confirming that if that race had gone on for anywhere between another lap to five, then Norris would have been in a very commanding position.

“In retrospect, the tyre choice was a risk,” Marko admitted to ORF.

“Max took good care of the tyres, but you could see with him and Hamilton that the soft tyres were wearing out.

“We were glad the race was over. Norris needed another lap or three or five and he would have had a big tyre advantage.”

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Max Verstappen and Red Bull faster than McLaren ‘in every area’

The tricky race starts actually came back to bite Verstappen once again at Silverstone, Norris getting the better launch to lead the opening five laps of his home race.

Verstappen was though able to strike back from there and drive on to victory, the Dutchman admitting to being surprised by the performance McLaren had after the upgrade package introduced in Austria, yielding a huge step forward, was rolled out for Piastri too at Silverstone.

Marko though said that after Verstappen had “paid good attention to his tyres in the fast corners” during the opening stages of the British GP, from there he went on to demonstrate a pace advantage over McLaren across the board.

“When we got up to speed, we were actually faster than McLaren in every area,” Marko claimed.

“At the end of the race we couldn’t have asked for anything more from the tyres.”

Red Bull are now a huge 208 points clear of their closest challenger Mercedes at the top of theConstructors’ standings, while McLaren with their 30-point haul were able to boot Alpine out of P5.

Read next –British Grand Prix conclusions: Norris’ podium warning, Hamilton wants answers