Renault would be wiser to direct the bulk of its effort into Red Bull. That is the view of Dr Helmut Marko, just as the French carmaker turns a sharp corner with the direction of its F1 programme. In recent years, Red Bull has been considered the de-facto 'works' Renault team, but for 2016 the manufacturer has bought Lotus and will supply only 'Tag-Heuer'-branded power units to the energy drink outfit.
But Marko told the German-language motorsport-magazin.com: "When I consider the current Lotus team, which is now the Renault factory team, then if they (Renault) were in their right mind they would put everything on us." The outspoken Red Bull official said he expects little from the Enstone team in 2016, especially "with that team and with those drivers".
He is referring to Pastor Maldonado and Jolyon Palmer, although there is speculation Maldonado could be replaced by the former McLaren junior Kevin Magnussen. France's L'Equipe reports that Renault is looking to immediately hire more than thirty new staff in all areas at Enstone ahead of the 2016 season. But Marko says that, for Red Bull at least, little is changing. "Renault has its own team but we were always a paying customer," he insisted.
And he said even though Red Bull is no longer Renault's premier team, it has "contractually secured" the promise that Red Bull will always be up-to-date with the latest engine developments. In the meantime, the junior outfit Toro Rosso has switched to 2015-spec Ferrari power.
"If we start with the existing power figures," said Marko, "then Toro Rosso has an advantage of about five to six tenths per lap. But they have the drawback that they cannot have the current (Ferrari) engine, and with no development. If there is the status quo from last year, then Toro Rosso for sure will be ahead of us at the first race. Although this is not pleasant, it is not a problem," Marko said.
"We are a family and the main team, Red Bull Racing, must just try harder. But I'm sure that with engine development we will at least come to the level of the (2015) Ferrari engines during the season," he added. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing