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Marko laughs off Sainz stories as ‘typical summer slump rumors’

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Red Bull Formula 1 advisor Helmut Marko has laughed off suggestions Carlos Sainz Jr. could make a mid-season move to a rival team, calling the stories “typical summer slump rumors”.

Sainz sparked speculation that he could be set to leave Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s F1 B-team, in the near future over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend when he said that a fourth year with the team in 2018 was “unlikely”.

Red Bull’s bosses clamped down on Sainz, stressing he was still under contract for 2018, but did say he would be available for the right price.

Speculation arose ahead of the summer break that Sainz could switch to Renault mid-season in place of the struggling Jolyon Palmer, only for all parties to deny the suggestions in Hungary.

Speaking to the official F1 website ahead of next weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, Marko laughed off the stories once more.

“Rumors! Typical summer-slump rumors,” he said.

“You will see Carlos in a Toro Rosso in Spa.”

Complete with questions about Sainz’s future, Toro Rosso has been going through a bumpy time in recent weeks, with an on-track clash between its drivers at the British Grand Prix being a low point.

Marko feels that Toro Rosso has failed to reach its full potential so far this season, and thinks it will be difficult to achieve its pre-season target of P5 in the constructors’ championship despite being just two points off the position.

“Incidents with the drivers like in Silverstone are unfortunate, as are the reliability issues,” Marko said.

“The aim was to finish fifth in the standings and I think that will be rather difficult. Budapest turned in our favor, but from Spa on you will see the Mercedes-powered cars showing us their rear.

“We had a lot of possibilities in the first half of the season that we haven’t taken. A shame.”

Sainz: Joining Red Bull Racing ‘my one and only target’

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Carlos Sainz Jr. says moving up to Red Bull’s senior Formula 1 team remains his “one and only target” despite recently suggesting he could leave the energy drink giant’s driver program for 2018.

Sainz caused a stir over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend when he said a fourth year with Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s B-team, was “unlikely” in 2018, only for program bosses Christian Horner and Helmut Marko to stress he remained under contract.

Sainz moved to clear up the comments, re-affirming his commitment to Red Bull and making peace with his bosses.

“I have my opinion and I said it in that very moment. Maybe I could have used a different wording to put it,” Sainz told the official F1 website.

“It is not something that I enjoyed, seeing Helmut Marko and Christian Horner going against me, but it sometimes happens in a Formula 1 career. But it should be over, so turn the page.

“From my side there is nothing else than sheer ambition. And sometimes in the heat of ambition you say things. But that is me! I do have targets and objectives.”

Sainz stressed that his goal is still to race for Red Bull’s senior team one day, despite both of its seats currently being locked down by Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

“It is my one and only target to be a Red Bull driver in the future. That is what I want, and that is what I have said a hundred times before,” Sainz said.

“And if one answer said in the heat of the moment is spinning out of control, that is just ‘modern times’.”

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.”