Red Bull’s head of driver development Dr Helmut Marko doesn’t believe that the energy drink-backed team is in a position to fight for the world championship.
In 2017, amid a shake-up of the aerodynamic regulations, Red Bull was tipped to take the challenge to Mercedes, who had dominated the sport for three years.
However, it failed to take the fight to the Silver Arrows and even slipped behind Ferrari, who sprung out of the gates in combat with Mercedes. Despite making some gains towards the end of the 2017 season, Marko doesn’t think Red Bull should enter 2018 expecting a title fight.
“I don’t think we’re in a situation where we can already go for the world championship,” Marko told Auto Motor und Sport. “The Renault engine should be more reliable and powerful in 2018, and we’ll be fighting with a competitive chassis at the outset.
“But Mercedes is producing a new engine, so the question is whether they’ll have an even bigger advantage. If the engine does what we’re promised, then we should be a lot closer to Mercedes.
“Adrian [Newey] saw that for the first time that we were able to beat Mercedes on our own and that you can race at the front when the engine is performing well.
“In the past we’ve always been stronger in the second half of the season. The analysis showed that we always tried to leave it as late as possible, but it doesn’t help to try and find a few hundredths every two weeks. It’s more important that you go into the season well prepared.”