F1: Leclerc facing ‘grid penalties’ – Marko

(GMM) Ferrari’s clear early advantage over Red Bull this year has done a full 180-degree turn, with the energy drink company’s top team now a full 80 points ahead after Baku.

Mattia Binotto is vowing that an investigation into Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz but also Ferrari-powered customer cars’ technical failures will now take place.

World champion Max Verstappen, meanwhile, has pulled his lead to the first non-Red Bull car – former championship leader Leclerc – out to a significant 34 points.

“Ferrari has now had two technical failures and so have we, so we have a tie there,” said Dr Helmut Marko.

“But you can see what is possible with consistency, as is the case with George Russell. He’s not as fast, but he’s more consistent and therefore not far away in points.”

The 78-year-old Austrian even sounds a little sympathetic about Ferrari’s new reliability crisis.

Red Bull Racing Team Consultant Dr Helmut Marko (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

“We want a fair fight,” Marko told Servus TV, “although Leclerc is already on his third engine. All of this is not very good for Ferrari, given the upcoming grid penalties, and we’ve really only just started the season.”

Binotto agrees: “We made huge leaps in performance with the engine over the winter, and it looks like we’re paying the price now.”

Finally, Marko said that despite Sergio Perez’s current runner-up spot just 21 points behind teammate Verstappen, that doesn’t mean it is a perfectly equal fight.

“We have nothing on paper about that,” he said, referring to suggestions Perez is really just the number 2 driver.

“But if you look at the performance, there is a difference between them and Max showed it today on the track.”