Helmut Marko feels Red Bull could have “very likely” beaten Ferrari to second in the constructors championship, had his squad run into fewer reliability issues over the course of F1 2017 season.
Although Red Bull started the year with a relatively weak chassis, upgrades from the European leg of the season put the RB13 on par with cars from Mercedes and Ferrari.
However, the Austrian squad was hit by a string of power unit-induced reliability issues, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen suffering a grand total of 13 retirements between them.
Marko, who acts as an advisor for Red Bull Racing, believes his outfit could have finished runner-up behind Mercedes in the standings with a more reliable Renault engine.
“Engine-wise – and this was no secret – we had a lot of reliability problems, which hindered the engine manufacturer in further power developments,” Marko told the official F1 website.
“On the circumstances – or let’s say luck – we had more than ten DNF’s. Picture this! This outstanding record speaks for itself. Without that we would have been significantly further up in both championships - P2 would very likely have been ours.”
"We believe in Honda"
Honda has received stern criticism for its inability to make strides since it returned to F1 as an engine supplier in 2015.
McLaren severed its ties with the Japanese manufacturer just three years into their long-term contract, but Marko has the belief in Honda, saying it will be able to make progress “sooner than everybody is expecting”.
Toro Rosso will take up Honda engines from next year and there remains a possibility that the flagship Red Bull team will follow suit in 2019.
“We are very happy with the Toro Rosso and Honda cooperation,” he said. “Toro Rosso will put all its efforts into making a competitive chassis.
“We do believe in Honda - otherwise we wouldn’t have made that deal. I am very impressed with the facilities that they have - and their determination to win.
“It is just a matter of bringing everything together and we believe that this moment will arrive sooner than everybody is expecting. We will observe very closely - beyond 2018 everything is open!”
by Rachit Thukral