Red Bull to be 'well-positioned' by Europe
9 February 2017 – Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko expects the team to be "well-positioned" from an engine perspective by the first European round of the upcoming Formula 1 season, with Renault planning a major update.
Mercedes has dominated Formula 1 since the introduction of turbo hybrid power units in 2014, taking 51 victories from 59 races, and wrapping up successive Drivers' and Constructors' titles.
However, for 2017, the controversial token development system has been scrapped, meaning manufacturers are free to overhaul their power units and bring upgrades to the track as they wish.
Marko, speaking to Motorsport Magazin, expressed hope that Red Bull's TAG Heuer-badged Renault unit will be on a par with Ferrari's from the Spanish Grand Prix, where an update is due.
"The signs are encouraging, the deficit has gradually been reduced," he said.
"We should be well-positioned by [the first European round in Spain].
"We should be on Ferrari's level, unless they make a big leap again. On Mercedes' level? We are not quite that good, but the gap is no longer so clear that you have no chance."
Marko emphasised that this will in turn aid Red Bull with car set-up.
"You can run roughly the same wing settings as Mercedes, and not always three or four steps below, just to avoid losing too much [time] on the straights," he went on to comment.
In recent seasons, though, Mercedes has made use of extra horsepower in qualifying, and Marko reckons the German manufacturer will continue to hold an advantage on this front.
Asked if Renault will introduce its own solution, he responded: "Whether there will be a qualifying mode, it is not yet clear, but I do not think it will be as pronounced as with Mercedes."
Red Bull has yet to announce a launch date for its new car, the RB13.