Max Verstappen’s impressive pace during the Bahrain Grand Prix was actually far slower than he could potentially have gone, according to Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko.
Verstappen started from pole position after an impressive lap on Saturday, but during the race he reported an issue over team radio, but will still able to maintain the lead, only to later lose out after Lewis Hamilton used the undercut to gain track position.
Verstappen would finish just a few tenths behind Hamilton and was clearly quicker in the closing stages of the grand prix, but could have gone three-tenths quicker per lap according to Marko had it not been for a differential issue.
“What was most serious at the beginning of the race was that there were problems in the differential area,” Marko said in an exclusive interview with German website Formel1.de.
“In Sector 1, he lost drastically, up to three tenths per lap. This was the case with Perez too. Not only was there less grip, but the rear wheels were spinning and the tyres were getting hot.
“During this phase, we didn’t manage to gain the advantage we would have needed to avoid an undercut. We fell back from 2.5 to 1.7 seconds. That was the decisive phase of the first stint, where we were clearly handicapped.
“And then we had another problem, namely that we had to turn down the engine power due to temperature problems. But Max still managed to catch up.”
Verstappen caught and passed Hamilton, but was forced to give the position back after overtaking off track.
Honda are set to address some of the issues, whilst Red Bull has confirmed it will bring updates to the next round in Imola, but Marko admits they need to perform flawlessly to beat Mercedes.
“We know now, you can only succeed against Mercedes if you act flawlessly. Everything has to be right,” he added.