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.”