Red Bull Feeling Frustrated Over Imola Upgrades

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202405170810 // Usage for editorial use only //
IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202405170810 // Usage for editorial use only //

Ferrari has become a “serious opponent” for the dominant Red Bull team, the latter’s top F1 consultant Dr Helmut Marko admitted at Imola.

Maranello-based Ferrari brought a major upgrade to this weekend’s race, with Red Bull technical boss Pierre Wache admitting the new components on his drivers’ cars are less “visible”.

La Repubblica newspaper headlined after Friday at Imola: “The new Ferrari works”.

Indeed, Charles Leclerc was quickest in both sessions, while Max Verstappen could not rise above fifth fastest in a notably scrappy session for the championship leader.

“We were the most consistent across all disciplines,” Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur admitted.

So while Ferrari’s upgrade clearly seems to work, Red Bull have been left scratching their head.

“The upgrade and the setup don’t fit together yet,” Marko confessed.

“We developed in the wrong direction and are completely out of the window. The car doesn’t work with any tyre compound,” the Austrian lamented.

Verstappen was a full half-second off the pace, with Marko adding: “We were even further behind in the long runs. That alarms me more than the fastest lap.

“What worries me the most is that Max has problems with it. And if Max can’t get it under control, then something is very wrong.”

81-year-old Marko also told Sky Deutschland: “The car reacts differently every time, and above all is completely unpredictable.

“It may be the case that some of the new parts do not function optimally as a package. But we don’t think it’s a fundamental problem, otherwise it would be the case in every sector.”

And in contrast, “It is impressive what Ferrari is showing,” Marko added.

“The competition is getting closer – that is a fact,” he told Kleine Zeitung newspaper. “Ferrari has certainly taken a step forward. I see them as our most serious opponent.”

Mercedes also has an upgraded car at Imola, and the team and drivers sounded more positive than usual after Friday’s proceedings.

Marko said: “Sometimes they are at the front and then suddenly they are completely gone again. Let’s see if they can untie their Gordian knot with their upgrade.”

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