Marko: Lauda dropping by on our Newey is by chance?
Helmut Marko is confident Red Bull will be ready to challenge Mercedes for the title in 2017, but is wary of teams poaching their staff including design guru Adrian Newey.
He said that with Mercedes now under attack and Ferrari struggling, bids to attract Red Bull’s staff are in full force.
“Of course, it’s always like that,” revealed Marko. “Also from Mercedes. Or do you think that Niki Lauda dropping by on our Adrian Newey is by chance? But we have our top people tied to Red Bull until 2020.”
And by ‘top people’, Marko said that starts with the drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
“With the long-term contracts of our drivers we wanted to say: Hello, you can’t graze with us. We are well positioned for 2020.
“Ricciardo is now 27, Verstappen is 19 in September. By 2020 he will probably be at his best. One can only imagine what will happen by then,” Marko added.
He insisted that Ferrari will not be fixing any of its current issues with one of Red Bull’s highly-rated drivers.
“No. We recognised their problems and made long-term contracts with our people. We have taken away all of the games and speculation.”
“Mercedes also has no chance to get our drivers. There are rumours that Hamilton says: Screw you guys, now I’m an actor. What do they do then?” questioned Marko who has never been shy to call it as he sees it.
Told that Mercedes is counting on a future with Pascal Wehrlein, Marko scoffed: “The course with Wehrlein, I believe, is incorrect. Toto Wolff saw what Red Bull does with its young drivers and believed he could do the same.”
On track this season the energy drink-owned team has taken over from Ferrari as F1’s second-fastest team and now Marko is looking ahead to a proper title charge next year.
“It is crucial that for next year Renault brings a completely new engine with the same performance as Mercedes,” Marko told Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “Since our chassis is normally the best in formula one, we will be well positioned.”