Helmut Marko voices support for Sergio Perez's strong start at Mexican GP
Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has thrown his weight behind Sergio Perez's promising beginning to the Mexico City Grand Prix weekend.
This endorsement comes alongside his dismissal of McLaren's potential to challenge Red Bull.
In the second practice session, Perez fell roughly three-tenths of a second behind his Red Bull teammate and pace-setter, Max Verstappen. Although he didn't outpace Verstappen, it marked a more encouraging Friday performance for Perez, who is striving to secure second place in the driver standings.
Marko has occasionally criticized Perez in the past, primarily due to his lacklustre Friday showings. However, in the wake of a challenging opening session at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the home driver managed to clinch the fifth-fastest time, garnering praise from the Austrian-backed Red Bull advisor.
"Being just three-tenths behind [Verstappen] is an auspicious sign for a Friday," Marko affirmed in a statement to Motorsport Magazine. "A home Grand Prix like this is genuinely motivating, and it instantly elevates your spirits."
Marko also highlighted the positive developments regarding tire wear issues. During the initial practice session, the front tires faced significant degradation, but the Red Bull team managed to rectify this concern during the second session, bolstering the outlook for both short and long runs.
As for McLaren's Lando Norris, who finished a mere tenth of a second behind Verstappen in the FP2 times, Marko remained confident that their car, the MCL60, wouldn't pose a substantial challenge during the 71-lap race.
"Over the course of the race distance, I don't believe he can maintain Verstappen's pace," Marko contended. He also drew comparisons to Oscar Piastri, whose tire wear woes are even more pronounced.
The Mexican Grand Prix unfolds at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, situated in Mexico City, the country's capital. This circuit is renowned for its smooth tarmac, which typically results in minimal tire degradation.
Consequently, securing advantageous track position and making astute tire selections are pivotal to achieving success, particularly due to the limited overtaking opportunities along the 4.304-kilometre lap.