Marko considers Lotus to be closest rival

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Helmut Marko has revealed that he considers Lotus to be Red Bull’s closest rival in the hunt for the 2013 world championship.

The team advisor, who is one of the most outspoken characters in the paddock, has also directly snubbed Ferrari after the Italian team suffered some bad luck during the opening four races. Therefore, it is Kimi Raikkonen who is Sebastian Vettel’s closest challenger in the drivers’ championship, whilst Lotus overtook Ferrari in the constructors’ championship thanks to a double podium finish last time out in Bahrain.

“We knew for a long time that Lotus would be the toughest opponent. We currently fear Lotus more than Ferrari,” Marko explained to Kleine Zeitung.

However, he did acknowledge that it was still too early in the season to make any assumptions, although Lotus’ pace was highly impressive.

“We are only four races in and something can still change. What is making the Lotus so quick in the races is a mystery to us.”

Kimi Raikkonen won the opening race of the season in Australia for Lotus, and their pace was reinforced by the team’s good result in Bahrain. The Enstone-based team will be looking to continue its good form at the next race in Spain, where Raikkonen finished third last season. Should Red Bull encounter some problems in Barcelona, Lotus could be poised to seize the lead of both championships ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix at the end of May.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”