Helmut Marko admits Mercedes is faster than expected.

Helmut Marko has acknowledged that Mercedes has surpassed Red Bull’s initial speed expectations following pre-season testing, delivering a positive signal to Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton.

Yet, the Austrian points out that Ferrari seems to be facing ‘more problems’ compared to the current champions, and McLaren appears ‘nervous’ about the RB20’s performance.

The introduction of Red Bull’s 2024 contender, which significantly deviates from the RB19’s design approach, led to speculation regarding the team’s competitive edge against its adversaries. Max Verstappen’s impressive lap times on the first day of testing put many of those questions to rest.

In contrast, Mercedes had a smooth testing period with no major reliability issues, whereas Ferrari encountered a setback when Charles Leclerc damaged his car over a dislodged drain cover on the second day.

Although McLaren entered the pre-season with high hopes, their feedback was notably subdued compared to that of their competitors.

Reflecting on the performances witnessed in Bahrain, Marko expressed to Motorsport-Total how “proud” the Red Bull team feels about the pace demonstrated by their latest model, the RB20.

“The reliability is unbelievable,” Marko explained. “And in terms of tyre performance, Ferrari seems to have more problems than us again. The McLaren also seems a little more nervous. At Mercedes, I don’t know what they did. They are certainly faster than they showed us. But we can be confident.”

Marko’s positive outlook on the W15’s performance found an echo in George Russell. Following the second day of testing, Russell remarked, “It definitely is an improvement there’s no doubt about that.”

“But you could have the worst car to drive but if it’s faster than everybody else you’ll be happy with it. So it was definitely pleasurable to drive. I had a good feeling within the car, but we know that all of the other teams have made a good step forward.”