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Red Bull’s hopes of securing a second consecutive world championship are hampered by the fact that Carlos Sainz has so far failed to match Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, chief adviser Helmut Marko has said.

While he finished on the podium in the first two races, Sainz was well behind Leclerc in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. This proves costly for Red Bull as they bet on the pair stealing points from each other.

Last year, Sainz finished 5.5 points ahead of Leclerc in the drivers standings after outscoring his partner with a dominant run at home.

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F1, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Red Bull, world championship

Speaking to Formel1.de, Marko said early performances from Sainz were not helping Red Bull’s efforts.

“I was pleasantly surprised last year that he [Sainz] was on the same level as Leclerc, and I actually hoped it would be the same this year,” he said.

“But you could already see it in practice, and you could also see it in the race, that he was about three to four tenths short.

“And that’s a downside for us because we thought both [Ferrari drivers] would take points from each other. This is not the case at the moment.

“But Sainz is a smart, quick man. I guess he’ll work things out accordingly and then hopefully get a boost.”

Although this could set off alarm bells for Red Bull, forcing the team to prioritize reigning world champion Max Verstappen in its driver line-up, Marko said that at the start of the season the team allowed both drivers to push for victory.

This was reflected in their race plan at the Saudi Grand Prix where Sergio Perez took his first F1 pole before losing race order after an early pit stop.

“This was clarified before the [Saudi] race, that at such an early stage, when both had no points yet, there would be no team orders,” he said.

F1, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Red Bull, world championship

“There was this theory that Ferrari was forcing us to pit early, but that wasn’t the case – it was just that the tire wear on Perez was significantly higher than on Max.

“Maybe it was also due to the initial pace because sometimes he was up to three seconds ahead and we had to bring him in earlier.

“Also on the hard tyres, Max’s speed was significantly higher than Perez’s, so I think that would have taken care of itself.”

When asked if he felt Perez was closer to Verstappen due to the car’s new design, Marko replied: “If you look at the teams, it’s different. Some drivers have come closer, with Ferrari , it’s the contrary.”

“I think with Perez there are two factors. Firstly, the car suits him more, so he feels more comfortable. And secondly, the team knows him better. His race engineer also grew up with the task, so there is more self-confidence, more know-how. And in general, we are very happy that this development has taken place.

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