Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko does not believe a Brawn GP style fairytale will emerge from the 2022 Formula 1 season, despite the new rules expected to level the playing field.
The story of Brawn GP and the 2009 season is well told. In a nutshell: at the end of 2008, Honda Racing pulled out of F1, citing the global recession of the time as the reason, handing the team over to Ross Brawn for one-pound.
Underfunded but with experienced campaigners Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello in the driving seats of the neat BGP-001; Mercedes V8-engines bolted to chassis’ built for Honda power, Brawn took advantage of the double-diffuser loop-hole which rival teams ignored initially.
By the time they woke up Button was on his way to that year’s F1 drivers’ title, which he claimed at the penultimate race, on the same day Brawn GP won the 2009 F1 constructors’ title in their first season of trying, a true giant-killing exercise.
Fast forward a dozen years or so, with a new rules package coming into force, Marko predicted to Auto Revue magazine that there will be “no repeat of the fairytale” and added: “With the level that teams like Mercedes and Red Bull are at today – with simulation, computers and all the resources – I don’t believe it will happen.”
Marko: In theory, if Mercedes and Red Bull drove flat-out we would lap the whole field every time
The Austrian is adamant that Red Bull and Mercedes will again be the benchmark outfits, with little to separate them and another bitter fight on the cards, while the others – Formula B – he hopes, will be closer with Ferrari maybe winning “one or the other race” because of improvements to their power unit witnessed last year.
“The last step they took with the engine was clear,” acknowledged Marko of the upsurge in form shown by the Reds, finishing third in the 2021 F1 constructors’ championship.
Meanwhile, amid bullish talk out of Maranello and other teams dripping feel-good social media ‘progress reports’ it is clear Marko is not buying any preseason hype.
“I only see the progress we are making, and that is significant,” he said of the Red Bull RB18.
As a true racer, winning Le Mans during the sport’s most perilous era and competing in F1 at the same time, Marko “hopes for a closer contest in F1 this season” with help from the new rules package.
“In theory, last year, if we drove flat-out we would lap the whole field every time,” he pointed out with regards to Mercedes and Red Bull dominance last year.
A footnote to the Brawn GP story, which began as the leam started by lumberjack Ken Tyrrell, morphed into the Jacques Villeneuve and Craig Pollock led British American Racing (BAR) in 1999. When that project bombed Honda Racing stepped in to buy the team for the 2006 season.
The global crash of 2008 spared few, Honda deciding to pull the plug on their hefty F1 commitment, leaving the building as quickly as possible by handing the keys to Brawn.
After the abovementioned Brawn GP adventure, Mercedes stepped into the picture as they wanted to revive the Silver Arrows in F1 with engine supply to customer teams in a double-pronged effort in the top flight, to become the mightiest team ever in the top flight.
On 16 November 2009, Mercedes GP was born for the 2010 season and the rest, as they say, is history.
From minnows with no budget, they became the serial-winning behemoth that the team is today, but no such fairytale is on the cards this time around if Dr Marko is correct. Time will tell…
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