Helmut Marko believes it will not be long before Sergio Pérez is at, or at least close to, the pace of Red Bull Racing team-mate Max Verstappen after positive signs for the Mexican during the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
Pérez had the misfortune to find himself eliminated in the second phase of Qualifying at the Bahrain International Circuit after losing his first timed lap in Q2 due to track limits and then making a small mistake in his second run that lost him enough time to miss out on the top ten.
On top of that, he was forced to start from the pit lane after his car ground to a halt on the initial formation lap. Once he was racing, Pérez’s pace was clearly strong, and he climbed through the field to finish a respectable fifth.
Marko, an advisor for Red Bull, says Pérez’s race speed was on par with that seen by Verstappen, and he does not think it will be long before the Mexican’s Qualifying performance will be at the same level as the Dutchman as well.
“The race speed is on the same level as Verstappen,” said Marko to German publication Formel1.de. “When he was in free air, he set the same times, so so far, so good. Unfortunately, it wasn’t like that in qualifying.
“The positive thing was that he lost most of his time in one turn, Turn 1. Already during testing, in sector three, he was faster than Max on average. The only issue is: you have to get the lap together.
“But we are convinced that he will get much closer to Max in qualifying as well.”