Red Bull Racing advisor Dr. Helmut Marko opened up multiple topics related to Alexander Albon/Pierre Gasly along with 2020 season plus F1/MotoGP, engine mode and more.
Marko had much to speak in an interview with German publication motorsport-magazin.com, as he elaborated into multiple topics related to Red Bull and AlphaTauri along with the 2020 season plus F1/MotoGP and also the engine mode.
Starting with its drivers, Marko explained the problems with Albon which was down to Red Bull experimenting different parts and the Thai racer not having all the upgrades which Max Verstappen did due to lack of time for the shortened season.
“We build the fastest possible car,” said Marko. “If you want the fastest possible car, you can make small adjustments for driver comfort. But we don’t build a car in which the driver doesn’t feel comfortable if it’s not fast. He has to adapt. So in the second stint at Silverstone, Albon was the fastest in the first and second races.
“The general situation with Albon started with the fact that he almost won the race in Austria before he was turned around. It’s a matter of confidence. On the other hand, we started the season with a chassis where the wind tunnel data indicated downforce values that were not achieved in reality. Then we tried a lot of experimentation and dedication to get the problem under control.
“In this short period of time that the races are ticked off, it was not possible to have the same parts for both cars. That means: Albon did not start with the same equipment in most races. It went so far that we tried different things during training and he was confronted with different suspension settings. It’s his second season, of course,” summed up Marko.
Albon has had the backing from Red Bull involving Marko and Christian Horner but both have praised Gasly as well, whom he replaced. Ever since returning to AlphaTauri, the Frenchman has looked pretty confident which has helped him to be retained in the Red Bull programme and be a team leader within the outfit.
“We need a team leader at AlphaTauri and he does it flawlessly,” said Marko. “We were surprised that he had such a hard time with us. We saw him in Formula 2, where he was the winner. He was strong in Japan and he was strong at Toro Rosso. Then he found it difficult. Now he feels good, the whole environment fits.
“So it is ideal for him and for us that he is now in his third year leading the team as a veteran.” On Daniil Kvyat, however, Marko did not wish to speculate if his seat is in danger, especially with Yuki Tsunoda doing well in F2 so far. He needs to finish in the Top 4 to get the required points to be eligible to race in F1 and if not, then two FP1 sessions.
Looking at the 2020 F1 season, Marko was optimistic about their chances with Verstappen. Banking on how Red Bull manages to turnaround a season, the Austrian feels they are still in the game with all of the improvements coming through. “It is wide open not only from Max, but from the entire team perspective,” he said.
“We are still mourning our failure in Austria. We aren’t even at half distance in the season. I only remember 2012, when we were over 60 points behind Alonso and Ferrari at halftime. Okay, Alonso and Ferrari are not Hamilton and Mercedes. But at some point it has to stop for everything to succeed.
“If the tyre is damaged, the tyre stays on the straight on the rim despite full throttle, does not smash the front wing. A carbon part flies in the direction of the radiator and nothing happens at Mercedes. With us it would probably have been in the cooler. But that is the luck of the efficient. Then you swim on a wave. Usually that should end sometime.”
Moving onto the engine mode limitations, Marko revealed that Red Bull were pushing for it, not because it was illegal but it was creating a bigger gap through it as he reminded that mid-season changes to peg a team back is not uncommon.
“The qualifying mode is legal,” started Marko. “But there were some compromises in the room and the qualification mode at Mercedes was so extreme that it distorted competition. The reason was that the control was no longer possible. This is an intervention that we have experienced many times over when we have dominated.
“The wing flexibility has been changed from one race to another and again for the next race. I don’t need to talk about the blown diffuser. It is also the responsibility of the authority to ensure that the races are balanced and exciting. Hence the MotoGP example, where it works perfectly,” summed up Marko.
Staying with F1 and MotoGP, Marko played down that Red Bull will be choosing one in the future, especially as the company has started winning races in partnership with KTM in the premier class. “The MotoGP budget is very clear,” he said. “But you can see it in the ratings that are skyrocketing.
“Of course, this also has to do with the quality of the broadcast. The bar for television broadcasts, which we will alternate with ORF for next year, is very high. Both are motorsport, but in terms of range, Formula 1 is still the unrestricted leader.”
Here’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen on their fight
Here’s how Christian Horner views Pierre Gasly’s performance
Here’s what happened to Alex Albon