Dr Helmut Marko: Red Bull Honda Can Fight for Title in 2019
Dr. Helmut Marko, advisor to Red Bull Racing, says that the Formula One team can fight for the title in 2019, contradicting Team Principal Christian Horner’s previous claims that 2019 would be an “interim” year.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen put on a great performance to finish second from 18th at the 2018 United States Grand Prix in Austin, and after the race was over, Marko was asked whether he believed a title would be on the cards following the team’s split with Renault.
“We will have the Honda engine next year and this project is very promising,” he answered. “I think we can fight for the championship next year.”
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The Red Bull man also didn’t miss an opportunity to once again throw Renault under the bus when asked to comment on Daniel Ricciardo’s retirement from the race.
“He had an electrical problem. Poor Daniel! He will have to live with these problems for another two years,” he said, referring to the driver’s move to the Renault factory team.
Marko’s more optimistic tone reflects that of various other individuals closely related to Honda. Throughout the year, Toro Rosso drivers (powered by Honda) have been making increasingly positive noises about the manufacturer, and since the Spec 3 update in Russia, it seems the whole paddock is taking Honda more seriously.
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It is all well encapsulated in an unscripted clip that was aired on F1 Live TV last weekend, as drivers chatted behind the scenes unaware of the nearby mic. “Power is looking good, I think,” Pierre Gasly was telling his fellow drivers.
“Honda is doing good?” asked an almost bewildered Sergio Perez.
“Ah, tres bien, it’s impressive,” Gasly responded. “I was a bit scared at the beginning of the year, but now the step we did, we are really pushing to the max.”
Can Honda really give Red Bull an engine competitive enough to fight for the title in 2019? That remains to be seen, but there’s no denying that spirits in the Honda camp are higher than they have been since the manufacturer’s return to the sport four years ago.