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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko aimed a dig at Charles Leclerc following his qualifying crash, suggesting Red Bull’s drivers shouldn’t drive behind him because of his mistakes. The Ferrari star was left to rue a costly error in the Q3 shootout session after spinning out and colliding with the wall, with Marko rubbing salt into the wound with a brutal remark about the Monegasque.
Leclerc spun out at Turn 7 to bring out the red flag after he collided with the barrier, much to the annoyance of Red Bull star Max Verstappen.
The championship leader was on a hot lap before Leclerc’s crash and with the red flag bringing a halt to the session, the Dutchman was left without a lap time.
Verstappen had earlier made his own mistake after experiencing a snap of oversteer on his first run, forcing him to abandon the lap. And that proved to be a huge inconvenience as he will start ninth on the grid, while his title rival Sergio Perez is on pole for the Austrian manufacturer.
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And Marko, 80, could not resist coming up with a joke at Leclerc’s expense. Speaking to Sky Germany, the Red Bull advisor said: “To put it sarcastically: ‘You can’t drive out behind Leclerc.’”
The Austrian expressed his regret over how Leclerc’s crash impacted Verstappen and admitted the team made the wrong decision to wait until the last moment to send the two-time world champion out onto the track.
“It was extremely unfortunate for Max,” he added. “He went a little far in the first run and then we should have come out of the pits earlier. We would have had the speed.
“At least the first two rows would have been safe. But it’s a learning phase. We wanted to concentrate completely on the last run and get the best out of it.
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“The later you go out, the better the track will be. But in this case it wasn’t that right decision.”
Marko has become renowned for his outspoken and brutally honest communication style, which has often landed him in trouble with both Ferrari and Mercedes.
But for Leclerc, his demeaning comments are unlikely to go down well with the Monaco native as he explores a potential move away from the Scuderia.
Reports suggest Mercedes have considered the 25-year-old as a potential replacement for Lewis Hamilton after reports emerged of tensions with his team-mate Carlos Sainz, while Ferrari have struggled to deliver a winning car for him to challenge Verstappen and Perez.
Red Bull would inevitably have been on the list of other destinations if Mercedes decided to go another way, with Sergio Perez into the final year of his contract.
But Marko’s comments suggest there is not much appreciation for Leclerc’s abilities, despite the fact he finished second in the Drivers’ Championship last season with three victories and 283 points.
The best way for Leclerc to respond, of course, is not in the media pen but on the track. Marko’s remarks would soon come back to bite him if the Scuderia driver can start performing once again and mount a proper challenge for the title in the second half of the season.
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