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Mar.17 (GMM) Ferrari was not the only top team scratching its head after qualifying in Melbourne.
Prior to the 2019 season opener weekend, Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko predicted that Ferrari was two tenths ahead of Red Bull, with Mercedes only third.
In actual fact, Mercedes utterly dominated qualifying, with Max Verstappen only splitting the Ferraris for fourth place.
“We knew that Melbourne would be a good track for Mercedes,” Verstappen said. “But they were really fast.”
Marko said the almost one second gap to pole position is “staggering”.
“I can only hope that this is Melbourne specific, otherwise it looks bad for the entire season,” he said.
“I expected to be on par with Ferrari, which was true, but ahead of Mercedes. Unfortunately, that was a misjudgement.”
And Pierre Gasly didn’t even make it out of the ‘Q1’ segment, thanks to a strategy mistake.
“We have to apologise to Pierre,” Marko said. “The team was clearly to blame.”
And he isn’t even expecting the Frenchman to easily carve his way through the field on Sunday.
“Here, overtaking is more or less impossible. If we can put Gasly in the points, I will be happy.”
However, Marko said he remains happy with Honda.
“The engines ran smoothly and for the first time we have a ‘party mode’, which worked well in qualifying,” he said. “Our party mode is on Ferrari’s level. Only Mercedes has a small lead.”