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Red Bull set to revamp F1 chassis in time for Spanish GP

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Red Bull is planning to revamp its Formula 1 chassis with a number of upgrades in time for the Spanish Grand Prix on May 14, according to advisor Helmut Marko.

Red Bull entered 2017 looking to take advantage of the revised technical regulations that placed a greater emphasis on aerodynamic performance, an area the team has traditionally been strong in.

While Ferrari and Mercedes have stolen a march on the field to dominate the first three races, Red Bull has been marooned as the third-fastest team, seemingly adrift from rivals either in front or behind.

“We have two problems: Renault had some [power unit] reliability issues, which have slowed them down in the development, and we didn’t deliver the chassis that we should have done,” Marko told the official Formula 1 website.

“But we are working day and night to pick up our shortcomings. We are pretty optimistic that we will make a significant step forward in Barcelona where a big change of parts is coming.

“Sometimes patience is the best virtue a driver can have.”

When asked to place a time frame on the updates, Marko said: “The chassis will be ‘revamped’ in Barcelona and Renault is planning something for Montreal.”

Despite already being 55 points off leading team Ferrari in the constructors’ championship, Marko is confident that Red Bull can cut the gap, taking inspiration from its previous fightbacks.

“When we fought for the championship with Sebastian [Vettel] against [Fernando] Alonso, we were 42 points behind still after the summer break, and won. So we are the masters of ‘catch-up’.”

“We just have to go our own way by constantly reducing the gap.”

Helmut Marko calls for simple, noisy, cheap independent F1 engine

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Red Bull Formula 1 advisor Helmut Marko wants to see the sport introduce a new, independent engine supply that is simple, noisy and cheap so that teams are not reliant on manufacturer partners to race.

Red Bull has threatened to quit F1 on several occasions over a lack of independent engine supplier, having been hamstrung by partner Renault’s issues through the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

While the team still races with a Renault power unit, it has been rebadged under watch partner TAG Heuer.

F1 team bosses are currently working with the sport’s new owner, Liberty Media, and officials from a number of manufacturers not on the grid to define what engine specification should be used upon the expiration of the current regulation set at the end of 2020.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Marko – pictured above with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen – thought it essential that an independent engine supplier is brought to work in the sport, believing that the power unit they provide should be noisier, cheaper and simpler than the current V6 turbo hybrids used.

“The latest must be 2021 that an independent engine supplier comes into F1,” Marko told the official Formula 1 website.

“This is more than necessary. And the engine has to be simple, noisy and on the cost side below 10 million.

“We are talking about a much less sophisticated engine to what we have now – a simple racing engine.

“There are enough companies around that could supply. So we expect from the new owners together with the FIA to find a solution at the latest by the end of this season.

“If that doesn’t happen, our stay in F1 is not secured.”

Red Bull made its F1 debut back in 2005 after taking over Jaguar, and has since won four drivers’ titles and four constructors’ championships, all coming between 2010 and 2013.

Red Bull targeting Mercedes F1 challenge in 2017

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Helmut Marko says that Red Bull is targeting a challenge to Mercedes’ Formula 1 supremacy in 2017, believing that upcoming engine gains will put it in contention at the front of the pack once again.

Red Bull dominated F1 between 2010 and 2013, winning the drivers’ and constructors’ championship throughout the four-year period with Sebastian Vettel as team leader.

Following the change from V8 engines to the V6 turbo power units for 2014, Red Bull has struggled to emulate this form, claiming just four race wins since then.

2016 has seen Red Bull enter battle with Ferrari for second in the standings, but is still some way off Mercedes at the top.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Red Bull motorsport advisor Marko said the target is to cut this gap for next season.

“We’ve always done well when there is a regulation change that doesn’t only focus on the engine,” Marko said.

“The work on our engine is developing in the right direction, so in 2017 we should be within around 15 horsepower [of Mercedes].

“This we can compensate for. So our aim is to challenge Mercedes next season.

“The numbers that the engineers are finding look very good. Of course the track will give the final answer.

“But as our clear objective is to beat Mercedes, next year the numbers better be good!”

Marko also envisages greater synergy between Red Bull and its junior F1 team, Toro Rosso, as both teams will be using Renault power units once again. Toro Rosso switched to year-old Ferrari units in 2016.

“We try to have as much [synergy] as possible, first of all for cost reasons and then for performance reasons,” Marko said.

“Whatever the regulations permit we will do – probably not to the full extent next year as Toro Rosso cannot work as quickly as Red Bull Racing, but I expect that this will change over a period of two years.”

Marko: Verstappen now F1’s most popular driver worldwide

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Red Bull Formula 1 advisor Helmut Marko believes that Max Verstappen has become the series’ most popular driver worldwide as a result of his exciting on-track actions and honest comments.

Verstappen, 18, came under fire over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend following on-track clashes with Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Paddock consensus has been split on Verstappen. While some saw his moves as over-stepping the mark, others praised his brave on-track approach.

In an exclusive interview with the official F1 website, Marko hit back at Verstappen’s critics and compared him to a young Michael Schumacher.

“Nothing is justified,” Marko said of the criticism.

“Max is a different calibre. He has the traits of a future world champion and he is just doing what is necessary to get there.

“It obviously surprises some that this also involves overtaking and defending. If there had been something gravely wrong the stewards would have penalized him.

“It is a bit like when Michael Schumacher came in. I remember a race in Hockenheim when there was nearly a fistfight between him and Ayrton Senna – Senna the top dog at this time and Schumacher the new hopeful.”

Marko believes that Verstappen’s actions have gone down well with fans, who seek personalities such as that of the young Dutchman when following F1.

“We are lacking strong personalities lately,” Marko said.

“On top, there are drivers doing their last season so they are complaining about Max, about safety, about anything.

“With Max here is someone who is really young with a strong idea of what he wants, and he is not shy of trying to get it, of trying to be successful.

“And the reaction of the fans plays to his advantage: I would say he is probably now the most popular driver on the grid – worldwide.”

Gasly denies claiming he’d replace Kvyat for Singapore GP

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Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly has denied claiming that he would take Daniil Kvyat’s Formula 1 seat at Toro Rosso for the Singapore Grand Prix.

After being demoted from a Red Bull seat to Toro Rosso for the Spanish Grand Prix in May, Kvyat has struggled for form with Toro Rosso, conceding before the summer break that he had stopped enjoying racing.

Since returning from the break, Kvyat has failed to score any points, finishing 14th in Belgium last weekend before retiring from Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

Kvyat’s malaise has coincided with Gasly’s upturn in fortunes in GP2, where he leads the championship with four races remaining.

Gasly is seen to be the only driver who could replace Kvyat at Toro Rosso for 2017, but speculation on Sunday at Monza suggested it may come as soon as the Singapore Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

Gasly was rumored to have told Spanish TV that he would replace Kvyat for Singapore, but took to Twitter to deny this.

Gasly is understood to have met with Red Bull Racing consultant and advisor Helmut Marko over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend in which the possibility of a race seat in 2017 was discussed.

When informed of Gasly’s alleged comments by British TV channel Sky Sports, Marko reacted curtly.

“It’s absolute rubbish. Kvyat will have his chance to recover and we won’t make any decisions before mid-October as to who will have the seat next year in Toro Rosso,” Marko said.

“Believe me, I’ll be on the phone with [Gasly] immediately.”