Why Formula 1 Champion Max Verstappen will Get off to a Quick Start in 2022, According to Red Bull CEO Helmut Marko

Red Bull Racing CEO Helmut Marko expects one thing at the start of the 2022 Formula 1 season, a quick start, paced by Max Verstappen

Marko remains confident Verstappen will adapt and overcome any potential challenge of maneuvering the new machines. 

Momentum is on the defending champion’s side.

First-time F1 titleholder Max Verstappen will look to CEO Helmut Marko to help spark a start strong

In an interview with Auto, Motor und Sport, reported by Formule1, Marko sounded confident the start of the defending F1 champion’s season would not stall. 

“Max never needs a lead time to get used to it,” Marko said. “He’s always fast.” 

The industry’s new cost-cutting technology should benefit – not hinder – Verstappen’s potential title defense against seven-time champ Lewis Hamilton. The 2021 runner-up remains upset over the conclusion of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. On a social media blackout, Hamilton has yet to speak publicly since his Dec. 12 post-race comments hinting at retirement.

Mercedes officials issued at least two protests, which were denied, and has spent the offseason lobbying to have FIA Race Director Michael Masi fired.

Marko is planning on Hamilton, who is under contract for two more seasons at approximately $54 million per, eventually confirming his return. 

If – when – Lewis speaks to the media for the first time since his post-race remarks on Dec. 12, Marko expects media hype surrounding a Verstappen-Hamilton rematch to begin ramping up. 

Marko on 2022 goal for Verstappen: ‘That’s to become world champion again’

Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen drives during a Formula 1 testing session at Yas Marina Circuit on Dec. 14, 2021, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Verstappen likely will need to duplicate his quick start from a year ago in a bid to repeat. Last season during the opening nine events, he collected five wins, three second-place finishes, and four fastest lap times. 

Verstappen missed only one podium during that streak, following the Azerbaijan GP on June 6. He did, however, record the fastest lap. He recovered quickly and captured the next three GP races.  

Eying a quick start, Marko has targeted his 2022 objective: “That’s to become world champion again.” 

To achieve consecutive fast starts, Marko revealed Red Bull is working on the team’s engines to gain additional horsepower with the switch to E10 petrol. New F1 machines are experiencing a decrease of about 20 horsepower, according to Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto. 

Marko is confident team engineers and mechanics will contain the issues before the season-opening Bahrain GP on March 20. 

“Honda is working hard to adapt the engine,” Marko said. “I hear positive messages, although the performance is not yet at the level of 2021. In addition, we have to see how everything looks in the races anyway.”

Verstappen, Mercedes team nominated for prestigious Laureus awards

For the second time in his career, Verstappen earned a nomination by Laureus World Sports Awards for an international honor celebrating athletic achievements. 

Verstappen earned a nomination as the 2021 Sportsman of the Year. In 2016, he was among the Breakthrough of the Year candidates, according to Formule1

Also on the awards docket, Mercedes’ F1 team is up for 2021 Sports Team of the Year. 

That’s a curious choice. Considering how the organization acted after the Abu Dhabi GP, sportsmanship apparently is not part of the awards’ prerequisites.

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