Marko: This is a very, very serious thing and we don’t know if we will catch up at all

Red Bull mechanics did a lot of pushing in Bahrain

Red Bull mechanics did a lot of pushing in Bahrain

Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko is not sure the world champion team will catch up its early-season deficit in 2014, after a disastrous start to its latest title defence, even before the first round of the season proper has started.

Speaking to Red Bull’s in-house Servus TV network, the always-blunt Austrian admitted the reigning world champion team is months behind its rivals.

“The season opener is coming at least two months too early for us,” Marko said on the Sport und Talk programme. “We are not where we should be.”

He said the biggest problem is that in 12 days of pre-Melbourne testing in Spain and Bahrain, Red Bull turned significantly fewer laps than any other significant rival.

Formula One Testing, Day Three, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday 1 March 2014

Helmut Marko

“This is a very, very serious thing,” said Marko. “At the moment we do not know what period we will need to catch up, or whether we will at all.”

However, it may not be all bad for Red Bull, as even pacesetters Mercedes are expecting reliability – not speed – to be perhaps the most important factor next weekend at the season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

“I believe that half the field will not finish,” said Team Chairman Niki Lauda, “simply because there has not been the opportunity for enough testing.”

But, unfortunately for Red Bull, the Renault-powered RB10 is not just unreliable.

Red Bull mechanics retrieve the stricken RB10 during Bahrain testing

Red Bull mechanics retrieve the stricken RB10 during Bahrain testing

“The Red Bull does not look good,” an experienced source, trackside in Bahrain last week, was quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

“Nothing seemed right – the coordination of engine, gears and setup did not fit together. Sebastian (Vettel) was always sliding and spinning his wheels, while the Williams was like [it was] on rails,” he added.

The car is also significantly slower in a straight line than its Ferrari and Mercedes-powered rivals, and Renault is taking some of the blame for that.

“Melbourne will be an anxious weekend,” admitted their technical boss Rob White.

“I hope we can support our teams and drivers to explore the performance of the car and allow the race to deliver its sporting verdict.” (GMM)

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  • Matthias O’keeffe

    Good that this year Red Bull isn’t fast enough. Hopefully Williams & Mercedes will be 1st & 2nd in the Drivers’ and Constructor’s Championships.

  • =El Presidente=

    As long as we don’t it change from the “Fizzy-Drink-Show” to the “Merc-Works-Show” I’m fine with some engine-dominance.
    If Williams/McL/Fezza can challenge MB-works for the title we will see a great season.

    Even though, im not expecting RedBull to lag behind for a long time, ..maybe they might not catch up (quickly) enough to clinch a fifth title, but without any form of doubt they will be competing at the far front end before the summerbreak comes.

    If this RB-10 really turns out to be a dud, i’m sure we will very soon see the rolling out of a RB-10B-spec, that is at least reliable and able to compete for the top 6-8 positions. (but that is really the worst-of-all-worst-cases-scenario in my opinion.

  • Hugo Lafreniere

    If, as they claim, they are short on time because they were involved in the title race last year and that ate valuable development time/resources off the 2014 challenger, they are either idiots or lying.
    Either way I have no sympathy for RBR, not only because I want a different name at the top of the podium, but because they could’ve just easily switched their attention to 2014 early on and still have gone on to win the title easily.
    You get greedy, you eventually lose.

  • KevinW

    It’s looking a lot like Renault is the one who simply had nothing for the teams to work with until very late, which meant any development leading to 2014 was being done under assumptions and guesses and not actual equipment or test data. Many of these assumptions turned out to be wrong. For some teams, like Red Bull, the assumptions appear to be further off than others, if only by degrees. Its hard to escape the fact that none of the Renault teams are in competitive form, so this is not just a Red Bull issue. Regardless, it will be fun to watch them make progress, and see new faces on the podium. Massa and Williams look good, Hamilton looks set to get his second, Ferrari looks good as well, with two drivers capable of taking the championship for themselves and Ferrari as constructor after a long absence. This could also be Rossbergs year, and perhaps a great year for Force India as well. It’ll be a nice break from the last 4-5 seasons, as well as reveal what detractors have demanded – to see how Vettel does in a car that is not considered the quickest. Red Bull having a tough year is not a bad thing at all. I was concerned 2014 was going to be a disaster. Now its shaping up to be one of the most interesting dramas in F1 history on several levels. Can’t wait.

  • Hugo Lafreniere

    Half the field could actually miss the 107% mark. I hardly call that interesting.

  • KevinW

    Good point. The potential that there will be those unable to even make it through Q1 or Q2 is also a real prospect. But that’s who’s fault? The FIA for the rules change to such a complex formula in such a limited amount of time, Renault for missing the mark so seriously? Certainly not Red Bull (they do not make up half the field). Sympathy or not, they may be part of the problem, but are not the only cause of it, since they are not the only ones facing the very real possibility of such a failure. No?

  • Hugo Lafreniere

    The FIA is indeed hugely responsible for this impending debacle. 12 days of testing for an entirely new engine format would already be too little. 12 days for something this complex is a joke. 12 days for a new engine format AND braking format AND aero rules is borderline mentally retarded. On top of that, throw in an engine manufacturer that misses the mark somewhat, a team that packages everything too tightly, and prevent everyone from working on the kinks and you get a perfect storm of crappiness. So much for the pinnacle of motorsports. And force an homologation deadline that’s just as ridiculous. Oh, and let’s not forget : escalating costs are a BIG concern for the FIA. That’s why they decided to fix something that wasn’t broken (and thus getting cheaper), all in the name of being greener, while adding races to the calendar, in places where you travel in hyper-polluting jumbo jets (as opposed to having half the season in Europe where you can travel by truck like in the late 90s).

  • karlich

    In said ServusTV interview, much more was said. Having watched it and being Austrian, thus understanding all that was said, I might add that Lauda also mentioned the RB10 being considerably faster in fast paced corners and he expects Red Bull to be a force to reckon with as soon as they sort out the problems they need to sort out.

    Marko also elaborated how the engine was delivered to all Renault teams in Jerez which is the first time they fired it up. Stupid for sure, but if that’s true, I am hardly surprised they’re in all the trouble they are in. He actually described exactly what’s been said above as “the coordination of engine, gears and setup did not fit together” because none of that was ever tested by Renault as one unit (hence early vibration problems with gearbox and engine put together) and the main problem they’re having now is the turbo gap / power delivery for drive-ability of the car which lays mostly in software.

    In the interview, Lauda also mentioned Mercedes having 580hp upon which Marko laughed and admitted “I’d be happy if we had 580hp” which pretty much explains their lack of top speed.

    So yeah, they’ve got a boat load of problems, but I’ve not heard any competitor mention that the RB10 itself, sans engine problems, is a dud.

  • brianne

    now everyone gets to see what they are wishing for… sebastian working his way to the top in a slow car.

  • Dale Allen

    Given RBR’s troubles at the moment and the fact that they are likely to find solutions to their problems later in the season it will be ironic if SV picks up his 5th WC with the help of the double points fiasco at the end of the season.

  • RBC

    It seems you are aware that the engine reliability issues in F1 at the moment are based on computer issues, and not related to the aggressive driving style of any one driver, who might break the car (Lewis was the driver you mentioned).

    It also seems that you are Austrian, and support Red Bull in a very patriotic nationalistic way against any facts that suggest they cheated. That explains a lot of your behaviour toward my posts.

  • brianne

    good point and the fact that he despises that rule makes it even ironic

  • karlich

    Regarding Hamilton’s driving style and the effect or increased risk it may have on chassis or engine fatigue – I stand to my claims.

    Regarding Red Bull and me being Austrian. Actually mate, I was born in Austria to a double citizenship and have been schooled in English schools all my life. Although German is my native tongue, it was my 3rd language. Now I haven’t been living in Austria for the past 13 years, so while I certainly have many affiliations with Austria, one thing I certainly do not feel for Austria is any “patriotic nationalistic way” to the extent that I even risked being evicted from Austria because I refused to fulfill compulsory military service. In all honesty, I couldn’t care less about my own nationality or that of anybody else in order to pick my preferences. But I find it quite amusing what a fine judge of character you are 😉

    The only reason I like Red Bull is because to me, Red Bull as a corporate entity with all its endeavors represents many things I love. I admire Mateschitz for creating a multi-billion dollar brick & mortar empire in the foods & beverages industry which, as some may know, is extremely hard nowadays. I also like the fact that he is an extreme aviation nut. I enjoy their marketing and believe they’ve done a lot to manufacture, but also give back to the lifestyle and sports they so fervently promote. Their creativity stretches beyond pure marketing and they’ve also collaborated with many fledgling sports and their promoters to either improve or create completely novel sports or competition formats. They’ve certainly done a lot for one sport that I pursue myself – BMX and if you’ve ever been to one of their events, you’d understand what I mean and realize just how much they’ve done to enable and sustain the sport. Then come a number of more exotic ventures such as Felix Baumgartner’s free fall out of space. And the less exotic stuff like Red Bull promoted parties, clubbing and soapbox events (one of their first marketing gags). Oh, did I mention I actually like the drink as well? So yeah, I simply like Red Bull as a company, as the marketing machinery that they are and as the business that sponsors x-th amount of sports I either enjoy watching or even partake in.

    As for Red Bull Racing, well actually my support started in 2000 with Jaguar because… heck, because it’s friggin Jaguar, in friggin’ British racing green with 2 “Greater British” drivers in the form of Irvine and Herbert. I didn’t make much of Klien or Webber but the news of selling to Red Bull end of 2004 had me at the edge of my seat! I also always liked Coulthard, so there I had a company I liked take over and re-brand a team I liked and introducing a driver I liked. I liked! As you see, has nothing to do with being Austrian. Heck, in gppredictor I don’t even fly the Austrian flag for my virtual team. It my come as a surprise to you, I simply like the brand, the team, the individuals and last but not least, the drink.

    There, that’s a Red Bull fan for you!

  • RBC

    Red Bull the drink is known as an addictive product that has caused deaths and is banned in some countries due to its health hazards. And you admire the man that created this product. I see why you admire Red Bull Racing. Winning at all costs, regardless of the moral issues. Got it.

    And nice that the F1 part of this discussion, about Hamilton’s driving style, you just state your opinion with no evidence. You spend a huge amount of time on the personal non F1 points, but nothing explaining how Lewis will break these new cars.

  • karlich

    Listen, do your homework before attempting to be the bringer of truth. Red Bull is no more or less addictive than any product containing caffeine and/or sugar. No other substance in the drink is addictive. The death allegations are yet to be scientifically proven and are always linked to excessive consumption, mixing with alcohol, drug abuse, dehydration or previous health conditions of the victims. The drink isn’t banned per se but available in pharmacies while authorities investigate its safety. Even so, it is the ridiculous inability of a few individuals who cannot consume the drink in responsible quantities. Who drinks 4 espressos after a tough workout? Who drinks any caffeinated beverage with a heart condition? So why would they drink that many Red Bulls?

    Even so, there are several natural foods that can and do have adverse effects on our health: carotenemia, mercury poisoning, carambola fruit, nutmeg, and yes, coffee has killed several muppets re: caffeine overdose is typically not good whether taken as Red Bull, coffee or tea.

    Here’s a special beverage just for you @RBC : water! Since you like to Google so much, Google this “hyponatremia”.

    So don’t you go on about moral issues. Ferrari has killed far more people than Red Bull the beverage may have or may have not. As has any of the current F1 car manufacturers. One might argue producing and selling cars capable of reaching speeds in excess of 300kph is a public road safety hazard. Those car manufacturers market their cars and the lifestyle that goes along them much the same as Red Bull market their beverage. And then there’s some who get those cars, crash those cars and maybe take a few innocent lives along with them. Is that a reason to hate on Ferrari or Mercedes, Macca or anyone of ’em? Not for me!

    As for your repeated and ongoing insulting, accusations and presumptions regarding my own persona, I shall respond to set the record straight.

    As for F1 discussions, I have nothing left to discuss with you. You have your “truth” and I have mine.

  • RBC

    Like I said before, your focus is always on attacking the person, not answering F1 related topics. You still haven’t explained with any facts how Lewis’ driving style will break the car. Not one word.

    But you ARE able to give a huge number of facts to defend Red Bull as a company. In other words there IS a truth worth expressing about Red Bull. But with F1, suddenly truth is expressed as “truth”. It is fixed and certain when it supports you, then nebulous when it does not.

    As for those facts on Red Bull, I agree that coffee is also an addictive product that has caused deaths, which is why most parents keep their kids away from coffee. Red Bull is just as bad as coffee. Red Bull is banned in many schools, and in some countries for general consumption because it is being marketed as a sexy energy drink for young people, while really being a large dose of caffein that can kill, masked by its flavor.

    In Thailand the original Red Bull is sold in tiny bottles due to its potency. Like espressos, you can’t have 4 in a row as the body rejects it. Red Bull Austria sell the original Red Bull mixed with water and other ingredients to allow people to not taste the potency and therefore have a lot more at a much faster rate than original Red Bull or espressos. Like putting milk in coffee. Red Bull do that to make money at the known cost of people’s health.

  • karlich

    My focus wasn’t on attacking anyone. Read above mate. You dragged in a topic from another thread because back there I already stopped answering you. You then continue to call me, and I quote, “patriotic nationalistic” and make a whole lot of other assumptions. You continue to correlate my admiration of Red Bull and Mateschitz with what you call “an addictive” product and question the “moral issues” behind that.

    Now please, do tell where in this thread I have attacked you?

    p.s. Red Bull is also sold in tiny little bottles in Austria and is called Red Bull Energy Shock or something like that if I remember right (sorry, I didn’t feel like Googling it just for you).

    p.p.s. Good bye 😉

  • RBC

    As I said many times before, no explanation has come from you of how Lewis’ driving style will damage the car given that the issues are software related and software managed.

    You stopped repondng to me on the other thread to specifically give no evidence for your criticism of Lewis. Here you showed an understanding of the PU in 2014 F1 so it seemed like a great place for you to finally explain how Lewis’ driving style will break it. And you STILL have not done that.

    As for Red Bull in Austria, it is also sold in large cans, and called Red Bull Energy Drink. As it is sold all over the world by the Austrian company. But the original Red Bull in Thailand (owned by a Thai family) does NOT sell its product in large cans watered down. Which was my point.

    Google it.