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Marko considers Lotus to be closest rival

Apr 25, 2013, 4:45 PM EDT

Dr. Marko speaks to Red Bull Formula One driver Vettel during the first practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur Reuters

Helmut Marko has revealed that he considers Lotus to be Red Bull’s closest rival in the hunt for the 2013 world championship.

The team advisor, who is one of the most outspoken characters in the paddock, has also directly snubbed Ferrari after the Italian team suffered some bad luck during the opening four races. Therefore, it is Kimi Raikkonen who is Sebastian Vettel’s closest challenger in the drivers’ championship, whilst Lotus overtook Ferrari in the constructors’ championship thanks to a double podium finish last time out in Bahrain.

“We knew for a long time that Lotus would be the toughest opponent. We currently fear Lotus more than Ferrari,” Marko explained to Kleine Zeitung.

However, he did acknowledge that it was still too early in the season to make any assumptions, although Lotus’ pace was highly impressive.

“We are only four races in and something can still change. What is making the Lotus so quick in the races is a mystery to us.”

Kimi Raikkonen won the opening race of the season in Australia for Lotus, and their pace was reinforced by the team’s good result in Bahrain. The Enstone-based team will be looking to continue its good form at the next race in Spain, where Raikkonen finished third last season. Should Red Bull encounter some problems in Barcelona, Lotus could be poised to seize the lead of both championships ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix at the end of May.

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