Marko: Red Bull still has the quickest car

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Outspoken Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko still believes that the team has the quickest car on the grid, and that the deficit to pace-setters Mercedes is only down to the Renault engine being uses.

The champion team endured a disastrous winter testing period as drivers Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo were restricted by multiple engine failures, and this extended into the season-opening Australian Grand Prix as Vettel retired from the race after just five laps. However, with Red Bull’s drivers qualifying second and fifth for today’s Malaysian Grand Prix, Marko believes that this proves the team is still capable of winning both titles.

“If you take only the chassis, we are absolutely at the top,” Marko told the official Formula 1 website. “The ‘sick’ part is still the engine, the powertrain. Take for example the situation in FP2 yesterday; we still ran the mapping from Melbourne because the next development step is not working in the way that using it would be an advantage.

“We would be at the top again,” he added when asked to disregard the engine difference. “But right now with a deficit of around 80 horsepower that’s simply not possible.”

Marko is notorious for his honest approach and evident bias towards Sebastian Vettel, which became particularly clear during the inter-team battle with Mark Webber last year. When asked about the current battle with the FIA concerning Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification from the last race in Australia, he suggested that Mercedes has been working against Red Bull and that many other teams are also dissatisfied with the fuel sensors being used.

“The fact is that this device not only produced fluctuating results in our case, but also for other teams,” Marko explained. “But Mercedes is stonewalling the matter. Generally speaking it is not an adequate tool to control what in itself is a questionable rule.

“You have 100 kilos of fuel to do your race, and we have proven that we didn’t exceed that in Melbourne. So every team should be free in how it uses those 100 kilos. What we have now is too complicated. No fan understands what this is all about.”

The Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 3:30am ET on Sunday. For more information, click here.

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.”