Helmut Marko believes Max Verstappen had the speed to win the Mexican Grand Prix without the first lap clash between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, which saw both drivers fall out of contention thanks for a broken front wing and a puncture respectively.
Marko, an advisor for Red Bull Racing, felt Verstappen’s pace in his RB13 would have been strong enough to win at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, even if Vettel and Hamilton escaped the opening sequence of turns unscathed.
“Of course it was a big help, but I’m convinced that we had the speed and potential to overtake whoever was in front of us,” said Marko to Motorsport.com.
Marko felt that the 19.678 second advantage over Valtteri Bottas that Verstappen had at the end of the race could have been a lot more had he continued to push as hard as he could, but doubts over the reliability of his Tag Heuer-badged Renault power unit meant Red Bull attempted to rein in the Dutchman.
“The special drive was to go as slow as possible, and not to go as fast as possible,” Marko added. “We were all very, very worried.
“Four cars stopped who all had the same engine like us, there have been quite a few engine failures over the weekend, so before the car crossed the finish line, I didn’t believe it.
“You didn’t see the real potential from the car or from Max. Just after the pitstop the distance was 20 seconds, and that was what we were aiming for. It shows our aerodynamics are right, and for sure on the chassis side for sure we have the best now.
“In the race the engine is not such a differentiator any more, and Max is getting better and better. I believe that Daniel [Ricciardo] would have been on the podium as well, without his engine problem.”