Not well known to mince his words, the ‘forthright’ Red Bull head consultant of Motorsport Dr Helmut Marko reveals all during an interview on Austrian TV program Hanger 7 last night.
During the interview, Marko speaks about the arrival to Red Bull Racing of Red Bull Toro Rosso Junior Pierre Gasly – now team mate to Max Verstappen.
Further, Marko manages to slate McLaren and Renault in the process along with claiming that Ricciardo will be unlikely to be performing a ‘shoey’ anytime soon.
Forza Niki pic.twitter.com/SUHQ8FaWKe
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) August 3, 2018
Being an Austrian TV program, the interviewers were quick to ask Marko about the news of Niki Lauda’s lung transplant operation:
“His health is a private matter. But the last two GP without him were not the same anymore. ” admits the good Doctor.
Toto: "Although we should enjoy the start of our summer holidays this evening, none of us at Mercedes will pretend that we feel happy – our thoughts are rather with Niki, Birgit and the Lauda family…" (1/3) pic.twitter.com/ivnDtn0E2T
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) August 3, 2018
Of course Marko was quick to move the conversation onto a more suitable subject matter in which he can revert to his usual forthright manner – that of Renault.
“Since 2014, Renault, who had demanded the new hybrid engine formula massively, are still not on equal terms.”
“They never got their problems never under control, never got on a par with Mercedes and Ferrari.
“We’ve lost faith in the assurances that we’ll be in the lead next year.”
Salvo number one….
The statement above really does show how the Red Bull / Renault relationship degraded over the years. Consider the fact these two companies collaborated incredibly successfully before, claiming multiple world championships in the process.
Further, the fact of the matter is that Renault aren’t actually too far off the power output of Ferrari and Mercedes (exclusively revealed by TJ13 earlier in the season). In fact at Baku and China, speed trap data proves that the Renault is bloody quick.
And during the V8 era, when Red Bull had tremendous success, the Renault V8 was down on power by a similar factor (approx. 3%).
Still lets not let facts get in the way of solid grumpy opinion from a former Le Mans winner in Doctor Marko.
“The Japanese have a completely different approach.” reveals Marko when discussing Honda.
“We will be a partner and work as team with them, so far we were only customers at Renault.”
One cannot help but think that had Red Bull not continued to slate the French manufacturer in public (the started to do this as far back as 2011), Renault might not have bothered to buy the former works team back from Lotus in 2016.
On the subject of slating others in the public domain, ‘rent a quote’ Marko steers his mire at McLaren claiming that “We will not dictate to Honda like McLaren did” and that we will instead “discuss things together”.
“With Toro Rosso we are now gaining a lot of experience. Honda reacts to any findings.
“Honda will increase their efforts in 2019. The development centre at Sakura (Japan), is like no other…”
“We will be ahead of Renault in 2019 with Honda”
And what does Marko say about the departure of longtime Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo?
“We spoke on Wednesday before the Austrian GP in Graz and we agreed a deal.
“Everything was confirmed on that race weekend in Hungary, and we agreed the signature for the subsequent test.
“That did not happen.
“On Thursday before Hungary, Daniel called me and stuttered around, I said, go, what’s up, and he announced the change to Renault.”
“I suppose he has lost confidence in the Honda project, and Renault will have given him something neat,
“I’m sure we will not see any shoeys in 2019. But I can understand that after ten years with Red Bull.”
“He needs a new challenge.
“It’s a pity, because Daniel is one of the best in the race, his overtaking manoeuvres are unique.
“In qualifying, he is a shade short of Verstappen, but he makes up for that in race speed.”
Of course, Marko also commented on Ricciardo successor Pierre Gasly, the junior driver who is set to step up from Toro Rosso to the senior team in 2019.
— Pierre Gasly 🇫🇷 (@PierreGASLY) August 20, 2018
“He’s in his second year in F1, and is making good progress , I think he will be the full Ricciardo substitute by mid-2019. ”
🗣 "When the call ended I ran around the house shouting to my mates and they all jumped in the pool!" 😂 The moment the news broke for @PierreGasly 👉 https://t.co/7DtFFSU95g #FullGas pic.twitter.com/Dk25tEoMfl
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) August 21, 2018
When asked what he wants to achieve as the ‘ultimate goal’, Helmut admits that he wants to make Verstappen the youngest world champion.
One wonders if Gasly knows he’s already Red Bull’s ‘NO.2’ driver before he’s even started?
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) August 21, 2018
Who will replace Gasly at Toro Rosso?
Red Bull junior Dan Ticktum is theoretically the next in line to step up to Formula 1 in their young driver program.
The 19-year-old was even rumored to make his F1 debut this season as a replacement for a struggling Brendon Hartley, but he did not meet at the time the stringent FIA superlicense criteria.
Should the youngster win the European F3 series of which he currently leads, then the British hopeful will have enough points to make the step up to Formula 1.
“I have no information [at the moment],” Ticktum told Sky Sports.
“All I can do is keep going race by race, win as much as I can and see where I end up.
“If I have the points at the end of the year [for a superlicense] and the opportunity is there then it is up to the boss and whether he feels I’m ready or not.
“There is always room for improvement but I feel like I could take on the challenge.
“If I don’t have the points then the boss will make a decision on where I am going next year.”
Sky Sports then asks Dan if Helmut Marko had giving him any hints as to whether there was a possible future in Formula 1 for him, Ticktum reveals that he simply doesn’t know.
“I literally know nothing so we’ll see and will probably know something in the next couple of months.”