Helmut Marko makes Ferrari engine claim ahead of Bahrain testing

Red Bull claimed their first Constructors' Championship since 2013 last season, after finishing 205 points ahead of Ferrari.

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko is expecting the Milton Keynes-based side to be less “dominant” in the forthcoming season, with the expectation being amongst the team that Ferrari and Mercedes will have improved.

The Austrians were dominant last year, with the side having claimed the Constructors’ Championship with relative ease, as did Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship.

Verstappen broke the record for most wins and points scored in a single season, highlighting his superiority last year.

2023, though, is a new year with new challenges, leaving Marko with the assumption that the upcoming season will be considerably closer, should they want to retain both championships.

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“Yes, we want to defend both titles,” said Marko.

“But I don’t expect a season as dominant as 2022.”

Interestingly, despite Ferrari having been the second-best team last season, Marko views Mercedes as the team’s “strongest opponent”.

The Austrian believes the Silver Arrows have an excellent driver line-up and team structure, with George Russell in particular simply “getting stronger”.

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He does recognise, though, that Ferrari are entering the new season with a more reliable and reportedly more powerful engine, something which will significantly increase their chances of winning their first title since 2008.

“If you take the team structures, driver personalities and qualities, Mercedes is our strongest opponent,” he told Krone newspaper.

“They have proven in the past that they are very good strategically. Russell is getting stronger and Hamilton taking points away is a good thing.

“But Ferrari has solved its reliability problem and now has more power.”

A factor that does make Red Bull’s title defence more challenging is their budget cap penalty, of which they’ve been affected by the wind tunnel ban aspect of it.

Red Bull had 10-percent of their allocated wind tunnel time taken from them in response to their breach of the 2021 budget cap, with the side having currently served almost a third of their 12-month penalty.

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As a result, the side have had “no room for experimentation”; however, they do enter the new season with the confidence that they had in their eyes the “best car” in 2022.

“We had no room for experimentation,” Marko admitted.

“But last year we had the best car, so if this one – which was finished on time – works, which I’m sure of, the uneasy feeling will be quite modest.”