Red Bull may not win every single race in 2024 – Marko

Mon, 11 March 2024, 09:00

Mar.11 (GMM) Dr Helmut Marko thinks Red Bull can be beaten in 2024 – but only in certain individual grands prix.

Ferrari and Mercedes emerged from the winter period, following Red Bull’s utter dominance in 2023, with high hopes – only to discover that the new Red Bull is still easily at the front.

“If you look at where we were a year ago, this championship started better,” Ferrari chairman John Elkann said on his visit to the Saudi Arabian GP last weekend.

“But the important thing is to always try to improve and progress. In 2026 a cycle will close, then another will open,” he added, implying that Red Bull may actually only be beaten once the all-new engine and chassis rules arrive.

Lewis Hamilton has been wooed from Mercedes to lead the progression from 2025 to the new era in 2026, with Elkann insisting: “Lewis joining Ferrari is a sign that he believes he can do great things with us.”

Before Hamilton arrives, however, those great things are not quite ready to happen, with team boss Frederic Vasseur admitting a performance gap remains.

“Overall, we have made a good step forward in terms of degradation – now we are finally consistent,” he said. “But we are missing a bit of pace compared to Red Bull – I would say two-three tenths in qualifying and something more in the race.

“So it’s not enough, we need another step forward. We have to be honest with ourselves,” Vasseur added.

As for the team Hamilton will flee at the end of the year, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admits the situation with the all-new 2024 car is so far “not good”.

“It’s not that we don’t try,” he said in Saudi Arabia last weekend, “but in three fast corners we lose half a second. We don’t know why we do that.

“We’re going around in circles,” Wolff said. “We’ve been trying to understand this for two years.”

And so, despite the power struggle that is raging at Red Bull, reigning consecutive triple world champion Max Verstappen is still clearly ahead of every rival.

“The way Max closes himself off from everything else that is going on is great,” Marko, Red Bull consultant, said. “What impressed me the most is that he didn’t even ask to do the fastest race lap in the final stint.

“He just wanted to drive quietly to the finish. He’s so relaxed right now.”

Marko admits that situation “may not be good for the spectator” when the race wins aren’t contested at the front, “but we were superior. You have to admit that,” he told Sky Deutschland.

“I think we only won by 19 seconds this time,” the 80-year-old Austrian joked to ORF.

However, Marko is playing down claims that Red Bull could improve on its 2023 record of winning every single race of the season except one – Singapore – this year.

“It becomes much more difficult at circuits where qualifying is crucial, such as Monaco and Singapore,” he warned.

“In Saudi Arabia, Max again owed his pole position only to an extraordinary lap. If that doesn’t work somewhere, and we are not able to start at the front, then we certainly may not win.”

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