Marko heaps praise on Perez but offers word of caution to Red Bull

Red Bull are seen as hot favourites for the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix after a front row lockout in Suzuka


Following Red Bull’s front row lockout at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix, the team’s special advisor Helmut Marko was full of praise for Sergio Perez, highlighting his improvement at Suzuka since the last race in Japan. 

Max Verstappen bagged his fourth pole position of the 2024 F1 season, and Perez put in a solid performance to make sure Red Bull regained momentum after losing out at the last race in Australia. 

“He did better than expected, especially after the bad weekend he had here at Suzuka last year,” Marko told Austrian broadcaster ORF. “He improved incredibly and in the corners of the first sector, which are some of the fastest, he really kept up with Max.

“He’s also started the races with a different attitude this year. He’s no longer trying to go his own way technically. The cars are almost identical in terms of set-up, and that’s what makes the difference in the end.”

“Last year in particular this was Sergio’s worst race. Everything went wrong then, so I think it’s especially satisfying for him. He looks like he can do it. But maybe there’s also the fact that the deals for next year are on the line much earlier than usual this year. And that also seems to be very motivation.”

Further elaborating on the Red Bull’s success, Marko pointed out the seamless integration of new updates into their car’s setup, which played a crucial role in their qualifying triumph.

For the Japanese GP, Red Bull introduced three significant updates: new sidepod inlets, alterations to the floor’s surface and edge, and smaller brake inlets. Notably, the smaller brake inlets, tailored specifically for Japan, are not considered an update but an adaptation for the race.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull celebrates pole position after qualifying for the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen of Red Bull celebrates pole position after qualifying for the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull rivals in Japan

However, despite the optimism, Marko‘s forecast for the race carries a note of caution. The resurgence of McLaren, as seen through Lando Norris‘ competitive qualifying time, has not gone unnoticed by the Austrian.

“The McLarens have finally found their rhythm again. I think we will have to contend with McLaren and Ferrari, it will be between us and them,” Marko admitted.

“[Charles] Leclerc is relatively far back, I have to say. Thank goodness, because he was the quickest in the long runs.”

John Smith
John Smith
Editor at and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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