Dr. Helmut Marko: 'Preparations go very well'
Published on 01 February 2020 by Kees-Jan Koster
In an interview with the German Motorsport Magazin, Dr. Helmut Marko says the preparations for the new season of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing are on schedule. “The preparations go very well and in comparison to last year we are clearly ahead of schedule. On February 12th we will perform the shakedown at Silverstone circuit and before that the car will be on the test bench. In the past it has been our weakness to start the season with a disadvantage. But I believe we will prevent that with this preparation”, according to the 76-year-old advisor of Red Bull.
Looking back over the first year of being the factory team of engine partner Honda, Marko continues: “The conclusion we came to is positive, for which we mainly have to thank Honda. We did not have engine damage or technical issues with the drivetrain. We did change engines and taken a grid penalty for that, but that was a deliberate choice. This had nothing to do with the reliability, but because of power gains and development.”
“The cooperation with Honda went very well straight from the first test day and is only getting better. Honda did what they promised. We are pleased, we have won three races, and five were within reach. The chassis was not the best, the new rules for the front wing caused us many issues. Only on the Red Bull Ring we started to be competitive.”
The Formula 1-world was getting ready for an intense “silly season”, but Red Bull announced on January 7th the contract extension of Max Verstappen till 2023. Dr. Helmut Marko explains how this all came about: “For every team it is important to have some extent of continuity. And for every driver it is important to be able to concentrate on the things that really matter, namely driving and the technology. That is why we said, ‘the sooner, the better’. First we extended the contract with Honda till 2021 and after that we came to an agreement with Max relatively quickly.”
Marko is quite pleased with the contract extension of Max and is optimistic that Red Bull can deliver what it promised. “We are especially happy, this will give us stability and gives the whole team an incredible amount of motivation. It is our biggest goal to have Max, who started with us in Formula 1, become the youngest world champion. Now we want to reap after all the work we put in the build-up.”
On the question when it became apparent to the Austrian how good Max Verstappen really is, he finally says: “It was during a Formula 3 race on the Norisring under treacherous conditions with track conditions changing every lap. He was two seconds faster than everyone else. I saw straight away that he was a potential Grand Prix winner, and we were already in negotiations to bring him into our junior team. We just did not know in what class to put him in. But after that race I called Jos and said: ‘Jos forget everything, we go to Formula 1 next year.’ After which it was quiet on the other end of the line for a long time. ‘Jos...? Jos...? Jos...?’ I did not get a response and I have to admit that I usually make calls very early and I expect Jos had not completely woken up at the time.”