Knife-edge F1 battle risks Red Bull/Mercedes development war

Helmut Marko fears Red Bull and Mercedes will have no option but to keep developing their 2021 Formula 1 cars long into the season if the title battle remains super close.

Knife-edge F1 battle risks Red Bull/Mercedes development war

The two teams have taken a victory apiece so far this year, with Lewis Hamilton winning the season opener in Bahrain and Max Verstappen triumphing at Imola last weekend.

With very little to choose in performance terms between the two cars, both teams are continuing to push hard to improve their packages as much as possible.

However, with F1 teams knowing they need to commit as much resource as possible to developing the all-new 2022 challenger, there will soon come a point where they will have to decide when to abandon the current project.

Red Bull motorsport advisor Marko reckons, however, that one of the consequences for his team and Mercedes if things remain as close is that both will have to keep pushing on beyond the point that is ideal to stop.

He is clear that Red Bull needs to knuckle down and do everything to win the title, which is why he welcomes the buzz the team's form has delivered.

"We need this euphoria, and also the passion and enthusiasm," he told Red Bull-owned channel ServusTV. "There are still 19 races to go [sic, 21 according to current schedule], and we have to give everything.

"The problem will come about before the summer break, when, theoretically, capacities will then be put on to the new development of the 2022 car.

"The only thing is: if we both continue to be so close together, I believe that neither Mercedes nor us - and certainly not us - will back down anywhere in development."

Read Also:

The performance gap between the Red Bull and Mercedes cars appears very small. The RB16B appears to be quicker over a single lap, but the W12 looks like it has an edge with tyre management over long runs.

Marko reckons at the moment that Mercedes has the advantage in race pace, although thinks cooler conditions in Imola influenced things a bit too.

"I think Mercedes had the faster car in Imola seen over the race distance," he said. "On the single lap we were faster. But I also think it has to do with the lower temperatures. Plus the handling of the tyres is also a bit better from the Mercedes chassis at the moment."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes it will take another two races at least to get a proper picture on which teams holds the advantage in F1.

"I think we've now had a sample of two races and I always said it would take four races or so to see a true reflection of the competitive positions of each of the teams," he said.

"We're starting to see a pattern that its very, very tight between the cars, and Lewis and Max. And it's at the moment, marginal gains here and there.

"We see that they've got very good range and degradation. But definitely it [the Imola weekend] cements the pace that we had in both the Bahrain test and the Bahrain race.

"And I hope selfishly for us, but also I think for Formula 1, they're crying out for a great rivalry between these two drivers. The sport will benefit from that."

shares
comments

Related video

Phil Hill – America’s first F1 champion and Le Mans legend
Previous article

Phil Hill – America’s first F1 champion and Le Mans legend

Next article

Norris: Leclerc should have passed Verstappen at Imola restart

Norris: Leclerc should have passed Verstappen at Imola restart
Load comments
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021