Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko appears to have ruled out the prospect of either Lewis Hamilton or Sergio Perez winning this season’s Formula 1 world championship.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and current title holder Max Verstappen have taken a pair of victories each in the opening four rounds of the season so far, with the Monegasque holding a 27-point advantage thanks to the retirements in Bahrain and Australia which cost the Dutchman two likely second-place finishes.
Mercedes are currently unable to challenge for race victories as they struggle to adapt to Formula 1’s new era of technical regulations, which has seen ground effect aerodynamics return for the first time since the 1980s. The Silver Arrows have been the fastest team on the grid since 2014 but are toiling so far in 2022, with a car which bounces intensely at high speed on the straights and which is simply slower than its rivals through the corners.
Hamilton ruled himself out of title contention after finishing a lowly 13th at last Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, and sits just seventh in the standings, a whopping 58 points behind Leclerc.
Perez, though, has been enjoying an impressive start to the campaign. He took pole position at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix before being compromised by a poorly-timed safety car period, and has finished second both at Albert Park and Imola.
But Marko, who oversees the development of Red Bull’s young drivers and attends each race weekend, told German-language outlet Auto und Motor Sport that he he believed the title fight was only between Verstappen and Leclerc, and added: ‘The only other talented driver I still see in this league is Lando Norris, but he doesn’t have the best car at the moment.’
The lack of mention for seven-time world champion Hamilton and Red Bull’s own driver Perez are the most obvious omissions, with the disregard shown towards the Mexican’s chances particularly noteworthy.
The 32-year-old recently said he is expecting Red Bull to ‘dominate’ F1 in the years to come, and is hoping to be Verstappen’s main challenger in the short and medium term.
The fifth round of the 2022 F1 season takes place in Florida, with the inaugural Miami Grand Prix set for the weekend of 6-8 May.
Verstappen and Leclerc have ‘genuine respect’ in F1 title fight, says Horner
Sergio Perez makes bold promise that Red Bull will ‘dominate’ F1 throughout new era
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