Marko: Verstappen’s struggles with RB20 rear end ‘alarming’


Helmut Marko says Max Verstappen’s inability on Friday at Imola to get on top of Red Bull’s nervous and unsettled car is “definitely alarming”.

Following its defeat in Miami last time out at the hands of Lando Norris and McLaren, Red Bull's hopes for a strong showing at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix took a hit at the outset on Friday.

Both Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez endured a frustrating opening day at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the pair concluding FP2 a disappointing seventh and eight respectively.

Verstappen, in particular, struggled in both sessions with the handling and seemingly unstable rear end of Red Bull’s RB20, especially through Imola’s second sector where the Dutchman suffered several off-track excursions in FP1.

Furthermore, set-up changes between yesterday’s practice sessions proved unsatisfactory overall. While a slight improvement was reported in FP2, the revisions came to the detriment of the car’s pace on long runs.

"Relatively speaking, we are further off after the second free practice than we were earlier today," Marko told German website Motorsport-Magazin.

"In other words, the changes to the setup did not turn out to be the right ones.

"Tyres and setup go hand-in-hand, and it was indeed worse in FP1. But now on the long runs, we are not competitive. We are now in a position that we are not normally in."

Marko reported that Perez’s feedback after Friday’s running echoed that of his teammate. But the Austrian admitted to being worried by Verstappen relative underperformance.

“It could be that the problem has to do with the upgrades and the individual components not really working together,” said the Austrian.

“Max can't control the rear. And if Verstappen can't control it, then that really means something. In the second practice session the car slipped completely out of the window.”

Overall, Marko was more concerned by Red Bull’s prospects on race day – especially compared to McLaren – than for qualifying.

"The gap in qualifying [based on simulations] is not as big as it is now,” he said.

“The race pace was more alarming. We view McLaren as our strongest opponents at the moment. Piastri had no tyre degradation . He drove his times consistently. Norris' times improved relatively late.”

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