Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Ferrari are over-complicating their driver tactics, says Marko

2019 Japanese Grand Prix

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Ferrari over-complicated their tactics at the start of the last race by telling Sebastian Vettel to let Charles Leclerc overtake him, according to Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko.

Speaking to RTL, Marko criticised Ferrari’s attempt to co-ordinate their drivers’ starts at Sochi. Vettel was allowed to pass Leclerc on the understanding he would have to hand the lead back later, which Vettel then refused to do.

“I believe it was wrong to agree such a strategy at the start,” said Marko, who claimed Ferrari did not need to go to such lengths to help Vettel overtake Lewis Hamilton.

“First of all, Mercedes had the harder tyres and if Hamilton had started better and gotten away the whole thing would not have happened. One shouldn’t over-complicate matters. The faster one should just retain the lead and then it sorts itself out.”

Vettel famously disobeyed a team order during his time at Red Bull when he passed Mark Webber to win the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix. Marko admitted the team struggled to contain the rivalry between those two drivers.

“Webber/Vettel is the opposite situation [in that] Webber was the established driver, obviously the elder, Sebastian was the younger,” said Marko. “And, yes, we had our problems. We sorted them sort of halfway, but it was not easy.”

Vettel appears to have lost the upper hand at Ferrari to Leclerc, who has started ahead of him in all of the last nine races and overtaken him in the championship. This has prompted speculation the four-times world champion could seek a return to Red Bull.

Marko admitted he has spoken to his former driver “but not about this situation, but generally.

“He appears quite relaxed about it. But that is part of it at Ferrari: emotions always come to the fore and spread outwards more than at other teams.

“It will resolve itself, and he simply needs to provide the answer on the circuit, as he did in Russia. That was the right direction.”

“His races have largely been competitive,” Marko added. “That’s where he has been faster than Leclerc. In qualifying he seems to have been slightly behind.

“But with the direction the development of the car has taken he seems to be doing better. That seems to have been his main argument why it did go so smoothly [before]. I don’t think one write off Vettel.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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11 comments on “Ferrari are over-complicating their driver tactics, says Marko”

  1. Spot on, Dr. Marko!

  2. Finally, oh my god, it finally happened, a Helmut Marko comment that actually makes sense.

  3. The guy is just as clueless as usual. It made perfect sense to have this agreement. Perhaps it wasn’t 100% needed, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

    As the Mercedes guys explained, they did the same a year earlier and it clearly helped Hamilton stay ahead of Vettel into turn 1. Plus also then the extreme tow helped Hamilton almost past Bottas (which explains why the second part of the agreement was needed).

    Mercedes did something similar in France 2017 (stopping off Vettel on faster tyres and getting Bottas ahead of Vettel even) although that also ended up in frustrated Vettel ruining everything (crashing into Bottas).

    Either way the Ferrari start agreement worked perfectly. If only Vettel wasn’t such a cheat then there would have been no issue.

    1. Vettel was just desperate. Not only he is getting smashed in qualifying, but he qualifies 1 to 2 places bellow the car’s potential.

      Marko is also too kind towards him. Being potentially slightly faster over a race distance is never better than starting 1st or at least the front row. You can build racecraft easier than ultimate speed(if at all).

    2. @f1osaurus
      How many titles have you won in F1?
      Man, you are so hilariously clueless it’s quite funny to read….
      Or do you also think every former and current driver, teamboss and pundit who commented on this subject are also clueless?
      Oh wait, you’re the same guy who actually believes the current RBR car, with all his flaws, is designed for MV….
      Let me guess; You’re username is a reference to your brain-body mass ratio?
      Hamilton started on slower tires, on the dirty side of the track; there was literally zero chance of him staying in front of Vettel, and doing a swap in the first 10 laps with Lewis trailing……pfff, talk about being clueless!

      1. You are cleary just a sad troll, but anyone who’s taken in the explanation from Ferrari, takes a look at previous Sochi starts and has more brain cells than a doorknob will come to the same conclusion I did.

        Which is that Ferrari got that strategy spot on. It’s just that Vettel is untrustworthy, but even that they dealt with perfectly.

        1. You’re both right and wrong. It’s fine Ferrari had the agreement to ensure Vettel gets ahead of Hamilton. The stupid part was agreeing he hands the place back next 1-2 laps. There shouldn’t even been a discussion about that before first stop.
          Actually, Leclerc should’ve preferred to stay in 2nd, pit early to protect from Hamilton and then come out ahead of Vettel, like they actually did. That should’ve been the agreement: LEC gets to pit 2 laps before VET. If he can undercut him in that time, it’s his win.
          This whole thing started because Leclerc opened his whinny little spoiled brat mouth on lap 2-3 and immediately after SC restart asking to do the swap with HAM less than 2 seconds behind.
          Vettel didn’t go back on his word, he just showed he has more experience than entire Ferrari pit wall.

  4. When is this glass eyed bag of toss going to fade away? Has he ever done anything at all that warrants him being in the paddock, other than making himself feel tough by ragging on the children in the RBR program?

  5. This is pretty rich coming from marko who was the most incidentiary person at red bull during the webber-vettel era. Only thing he was literally doing was fanning the flames and all the while he was blindly favouring one driver while at the same pretending that everything is equal. The cars were equal as marko had no say in that but the treatment certainly wasn’t.

    Marko should be the last person to talk about driver treatment. Biased, cut throat and manipulative. He is the last person to manage drivers unless you want chaos and backstabbing to be the norm. You have team bosses like jean todt, ross brawn and flavio and you always knew what was going to happen with them (regardless of how fair or legal it was). Then you have the binottos and horners who half the time don’t even know whether they even should have an opinion about about it or not.

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