Helmut Marko: 'We didn't see this coming'

Helmut Marko admitted that Red Bull didn’t predict Mercedes’ dominance to grow stronger after the ‘quali mode’ ban came into effect but said Monza was not a representative circuit to judge.

Qualifying at Monza was the first time since the technical directive was announced that teams had to decide on one engine mode which they would run for the rest of the weekend.

And in the build-up to the event, Red Bull had been highly vocal about the positive effect which they thought it would have on their chances to compete with Mercedes.

“It was very important to us that it was abolished. We put the necessary pressure behind that,” Marko told Auto Motor und Sport.

“The quali mode at Mercedes is so extreme that it is already distorting the competition.

“It’s the kind of intervention that we’ve experienced many times as we dominated. The wing flexibility has been changed from one race to another and again for the next race.

“I don’t need to talk about the blown diffuser. It is also the job of Formula 1 to ensure balanced, exciting races.”

But if qualifying is anything to go by, then balanced races aren’t coming any time soon.

Mercedes remained dominant, locking out the front row eight tenths ahead of the other drivers, but crucially, Verstappen was absent from his usual P3 spot.

That instead went to Carlos Sainz with Verstappen left starting from P5.

“We didn’t see this coming,” Marko acknowledged when speaking to Sky Sports Germany.

“But Monza is not very representative to highlight the absence of the party mode. We also see a smaller difference in the fast times between Q1, Q2 and Q3, so the change seems to have had an effect.

“At least we can drive with more power tomorrow, so we’re going to see what’s possible.”

Marko does think Verstappen could have claimed P3 on the grid though with a better flying lap in Q3.

“It didn’t help that Max’s fast lap wasn’t perfect,” he said.

“I think a third position would have been possible here today.”

Starting 5th is not what we aimed for, still some work to be done. Let’s go for the podium tomorrow #KeepPushing 🇮🇹 #ItalianGP pic.twitter.com/9Sam3b2XJZ

— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) September 5, 2020

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Red Bull may have more power available to them tomorrow, but Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas is looking forward to the same luxury.

“The pace I had in the long runs and we had as a team, we’re looking strong,” Bottas said in the post-qualifying press conference.

“With the engine regulation change for the modes, it’s going to be even better for us in the race than before. Hopefully it will be good.

“I’m not sure how happy Red Bull is now with this engine change.”

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