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Red Bull's Imola woes: Helmut Marko concerned as set-up changes fail

Friday's Emilia Romagna GP practice at Imola posed unforeseen challenges for Red Bull, raising concerns for team advisor Dr. Helmut Marko.

Despite adjustments between sessions, the team found themself trailing further from the desired pace.

In the morning's FP1, Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez faced an uphill battle, with Verstappen notably dissatisfied with his RB20's performance. 

The car's handling issues persisted into FP2, where Verstappen's frustrations mounted, culminating in a seventh-place finish, just one spot ahead of his teammate.

Marko elucidated that the set-up alterations undertaken as a response to the initial struggles were a trade-off, compromising the car's race trim. While Verstappen briefly found solace in improved tire performance during FP2, the team encountered uncharacteristic challenges in maintaining competitiveness over longer runs.

"Relative to our initial performance, we find ourselves further adrift after the second practice," Marko lamented, speaking to Motorsport-Magazin. "The adjustments didn't yield the desired outcome."

Red Bull's difficulties at Imola compound the setback of Verstappen's recent defeat by Lando Norris in Miami, marking his first on-track loss of the season. McLaren's formidable pace, buoyed by extensive upgrades, and Ferrari's comprehensive updates amplified Red Bull's woes on the challenging Italian circuit.

While both Verstappen and Perez struggled with similar issues, Marko voiced deeper concern over his lead driver's challenges, emphasizing the gravity of Verstappen's difficulty in managing the car's rear end.

"Verstappen's struggle raises greater concern," Marko emphasized. "If he can't tame it, then there's a significant issue."

Despite the apprehension stemming from Friday's setbacks, Marko remains cautiously optimistic about Saturday's qualifying session, hinting at potential improvements but acknowledging the unsettling nature of Red Bull's current predicament.

"The gap in qualifying simulations may not be as daunting as it appears," Marko noted. "However, the broader implications are certainly cause for alarm."

In the crucible of Formula 1 competition, Red Bull Racing face a pivotal juncture, with the imperative to swiftly address its Imola woes and reassert its championship credentials.

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