The Red Bull consultant Dr Helmut Marko was not shy in his sharp analysis of the three F1 test days at the Barcelona track, expressing confidence in the RB18’s potential but slamming opponents who seemed to set the pace saying McLaren were sponsor hunting and Ferrari were underweight with low fuel.
After the three Formula 1 test days at Barcelona, several observers praised the track performance of McLaren and Ferrari, whose design for the F1 2022 season appears to have begun auspiciously.
Obviously, these are still initial feelings, and as early as Bahrain some teams, such as Red Bull and especially Mercedes, could bring cars that have been profoundly revised afterwards, with an evolutionary step forward kept in the pipeline until the last available moment. For these reasons, it is virtually impossible to get a clear picture of the current balance of power between the teams, even if some – such as Alpine, Alfa Romeo or Haas – have shown some obvious reliability problems.
The key players have remained fairly understated and understandably have not launched into resounding lap times, yet. The few whispers, however, all went in the direction of Ferrari, starting with George Russell (‘The red car seems to be very fast’), continuing with Toto Wolff (‘We have the feeling that the Ferrari engine is the strongest’), and ending with Lando Norris (‘Ferrari strong on race pace’).
Sincerity or pretext, time will tell, with Mattia Binotto and Charles Leclerc wanting to play down the narrative of a favoured Red, easing the pressure and essentially defining their team as an outsider, at least for the moment.
Those who didn’t hide behind declarations were the usual Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s advisor, who certainly doesn’t make diplomacy his hallmark:
“McLaren is looking for sponsors. Ferrari certainly looks solid, but how much fuel did they have on board?”
In short, for the former Austrian driver, Adrian Newey’s new creation is more than promising:
“The RB18 seems to have great potential,” he assured Auto, Motor und Sport. Marko also confirmed the existence of negotiations to extend the contract of world champion Max Verstappen.