Marko – Update working despite Hamilton’s pole

After Lewis Hamilton’s impressive return to pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff hinted that the next step is getting him to sign a contract for the 2024 season.

“It’s not signed, but we’ve done it emotionally,” Wolff said.

Hamilton agreed, saying, “It’s taking more time than we all thought to get to where we want to be, but I think we’ll get there.”

The result on Saturday ended Max Verstappen’s dominant run, with the Dutchman explaining that he qualified just three thousandths of a second behind Hamilton because his Red Bull car felt “terrible.”

“I think the update works, but I think we just didn’t put everything together setup-wise,” Verstappen said. “It doesn’t matter where you are on the grid. If it doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t feel good.”

Red Bull’s advisor, Dr. Helmut Marko, supported the effectiveness of the new parts: “Our numbers say the new parts are working.”

In the sister Red Bull, Sergio Perez managed to return to Q3 for the first time in six rounds. However, Marko refrained from criticizing the Mexican driver.

“The first practice session was wet, and because Perez crashed, we didn’t get any insights,” Marko said. “The car doesn’t behave quite as expected here. We lose in turns 5 and 6 and have problems with the curbs. For Perez, it was an important performance. He had the same problems as Max. He is five tenths behind, but the reason is Max. You can’t blame Perez for that.”

Despite Mercedes’ celebration, Wolff doesn’t expect Hamilton to maintain the lead after a long race on Sunday.

“Max’s long runs on this circuit are from another planet,” Wolff insisted.

The first step for Verstappen will be to get through the opening lap alongside Hamilton. Red Bull boss Christian Horner reminded the F1 world of their history and the potential for an interesting battle after the initial corners.

Wolff also cautioned, “Lewis and Max both have nothing to lose. Lewis will give everything he has to make it a great fight. Our biggest weakness hasn’t been that our car lacks downforce. The problem is the unpredictability of the rear. Today, Lewis had confidence in the car. At the same time, we must also remain realistic.”

Hamilton expressed hopefulness, noting that Red Bull seems to have lost some of their initial advantage.

“They (Red Bull) have become a little slower compared to the beginning of the year. Look at DRS – they don’t have the advantage they used to,” he said. “Where did it go? They also had an update here – we expected it to be a good step forward, two tenths or something.”

Marko from Red Bull agreed that the rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen still holds excitement, especially with their lap 1 battle on Sunday.

“At least there is no longer any talk of boredom in Formula 1,” he said. “Yesterday, Hamilton was very fast on the single laps – faster than us. Overtaking is very, very difficult here, so it will be an interesting and tough race.”