If all Max Verstappen can manage this weekend at Zandvoort is a podium, Dr Helmut Marko thinks that would be “fine”.
After utterly dominating just a week ago on the fast sweepers and long straights at Spa-Francorchamps, the Dutchman comparatively struggled on home soil in Friday practice.
However, he lost a lot of time with a gearbox failure – and Red Bull’s top Austrian official Marko says Sergio Perez’s even poorer pace is no cause for alarm.
“Perez is usually a second slower than Max on Fridays, so the data is of limited value,” the 79-year-old said.
“The first laps Verstappen did gives us optimism that we can still fight with the leaders.
“We probably won’t even use the hard tyres in the race which is why we put it on in the first practice to get rid of them. On those tyres, we felt good.
“We will still be able to fight for a podium and that’s fine for us for now,” insisted Marko.
Indeed, world champion Verstappen has almost a three-digit points lead over Charles Leclerc, meaning even a string of Ferrari wins won’t dramatically change the situation.
It could, however, make for an exciting Dutch GP, with a Mercedes source believing that “Red Bull, Ferrari and us are on par”.
Team boss Toto Wolff, however, is not getting too excited about a surge in form.
“Before the summer break, people were giving us a good chance of winning and then at Spa-Francorchamps we were written off,” he told De Telegraaf.
“Now after Friday practice in Zandvoort they think we are going to win again. Formula 1 is very manic-depressive like that.
“But I think that with the current rules, the different times in the wind tunnel and the budget cap, we can fight back. But it will be very tough, because Red Bull is doing a great job at the moment,” said the Mercedes boss.