Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2019

Marko hails Honda and urges Red Bull to improve chassis

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In the round-up: Helmut Marko says Red Bull must concentrate on its chassis development to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari.

What they say

Marko praised Honda after Red Bull took a podium finish using their power unit in the first race of the season:

I’m very, very happy. We didn’t have any problem with the engine from the first practice laps until now.

We saved quite a lot of energy because we wanted to attack the last three laps. Unfortunately Max went wide so we couldn’t attack Hamilton.

We are happy that the distance to Mercedes was not as big as in qualifying. But we know we have to do much work on the chassis so we can challenge whoever is in front.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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F1 drivers, Albert Park, 2019
Formula 1 drivers, Albert Park, 2019

The Formula 1 drivers assembled for their traditional group photograph at the start of the new season yesterday. Take a look at similar pictures from seasons dating back to 1996 here:

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Comment of the day

Valtteri Bottas won the first skirmish, but can he use his start to take the championship fight to his team mate?

This was great from Bottas. If we want a good season we need a good championship battle. If he can get Hamilton rattled with a string of consecutive wins, that would give him a fighting chance.

Meanwhile look at Red Bull-Honda. Verstappen was awesome, Honda engine did the job on the straight around Ferrari. That was impressive.

And Ferrari? They had a great race, but considering their pace, they were only good for fourth, even that could have been fifth. After such strong winter testing, they have sunk so low.

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Keith Collantine
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  • 82 comments on “Marko hails Honda and urges Red Bull to improve chassis”

    1. I don’t think RB is as close to Mercedes as they think. Hamilton was holding back a bit and I think Bottas’ pace was the actual Mercedes pace.

      Lets see in the upcoming races what the distance actually is.

      1. I think Bottas was holding back too for quite a decent part of the race, and indeed Hamilton mentioned how he was just driving round until the end with the car turned down (be it his tyres were not great probably) since he knew he couldn’t get an attack done on his teammate at Albert Park (not sure I buy that bit really, but I guess with little difference in speed, it is not easy)

        1. Then again, the gap between Bottas and Verstappen would have been considerably smaller if Hamilton wouldn’t have been in between. Verstappen had much more potential pace, but simply couldn;t overtake Hamilton due to tyres overheating.
          Verstappen was stuck behind Vettel, than stuck behind Hamilton… Verstappen reduced a 6 sec gap in just 5-6 laps to 1.5 sec.

          1. Your hilarious. Bottas was cruising and Hamilton had a damaged car, Verstappen also tried for the fastest lap but was trumpt by Bottas.

            1. what Matn says is that if Hamilton was closer to Bottas surely Max would have been too, maybe not as close but not 20 sec adrift. And it’s entirely possible, given how the RedBull closed the gap after the mistake on the grass. In a couple of laps Max brought a ~3.8 sec gap back down to 1 sec. – that means he had a lot more in the car.

            2. “In a couple of laps Max brought a ~3.8 sec gap back down to 1 sec.” – Well not entirely. The gap was 3s and it took him about 7 laps to get it to 1s.

            3. Couldn’t help but think when Gas was stuck in traffic that Max or Dan would of under those cars and up through the field, l hope we can see his late breaking in the Reno this year, it was a treat to watch last year when his engine was running.

    2. Is it a case of Red Bull reaping the rewards after Mclaren lived through the pain with Honda?

      I don’t think that Mclaren would have finished on the podium yesterday if they had stayed with Honda, the team has and had bigger problems.

      Well played to Red Bull though, to have taken a PU that had become a bit of a “yoke”, integrate and score a podium on debut is a fantastic outcome. Happy for Honda as well, they’ve put in the effort and deserve every success.

      Mclaren could have been part of a great story, sure, Honda had their issues, but Mclaren have their fair share of blame. Now it’s Red Bulls success story.

      1. @jaymenon10

        As much as I like Mclaren, I firmly believe that the failure of the Honda partnership, as costly was and as embarrassing as it may be, is better for them in the long term.

        They would not be in the position Red Bull are now. But the Honda failure has forced them to look in the mirror and question their approach and structure.

        To a large extent Mclaren have been living in the past, living in a bubble of their glory days to the extent that they felt entitled to be at the sharp end, blaming anyone but themselves for the issues at play.

        If anything good comes from this, it is that seeing the red bull up front, as hard as it will be to stomach, will shock them in to realising how much work they need to do and how many changes they still need to make.

        If they don’t and continue blindly forwards unable to admit to their shortcomings and enact change, they will only need to look at the back of the grid as an example of where they will ultimately end up.

        1. @mach1

          Well said. Mclaren had a long hard look at themselves last year. They were genuinely shocked when they realized that the DIDN’T have the best chassis after preaching otherwise all of 17. Eric had to go, and the clear out of their technical leadership was inevitable, as they had failed.

          Alonso leaving the team was also a good out. Sure, he would have probably finished 7th yesterday, and may have attracted more sponsorship, but they have to look at the long game. Having a relentless superstar like Alonso in your creates unnecessary pressure for a team that isn’t a front runner. His input may be invaluable, but perhaps its better that their energy be focused in a more holistic manner.

          Zak Brown gets a lot of flak, but the guy is turning the team around. He’s had to dismantle a dysfunctional hierarchy that had little or no direction for a good part of a decade. At the time, a lot of us on here pinned for Ron to return, and in fact, that was probably the point they drove off the cliff. Right now, they have a fair few individuals like Gil De Ferran and Andreas Seidl onboard, who are guys who know how to win, and you’ve a fresh set of eyes of James Key coming in.

          All in all, the future looks bright for Mclaren.

          1. Zak Brown gets a lot of flak, but the guy is turning the team around.

            Is he?
            We all saw what Fred Vasseur did at Sauber, or Brawn at Honda. That’s turning a team around.
            Zak seems to be merely moving the deckchairs.

            1. @coldfly – I think Zak invested too much time (i.e. years) on the Honda and Alonso aspects of the team to realize the urgent attention that McLaren itself needed. He seems to now be doing the right stuff – James Key will be joining soon (end of this month, IIRC), and Zak’s got someone to run the F1 team exclusively.

              Those changes will probably reap its rewards effectively only by 2020, though. The good thing for them is that they’re well funded, especially now that they save a decent chunk of change on the drivers, so time is on their side (unlike Williams, for instance).

              PS: Yes, this is Phylyp. No, my account has not been hacked. Yes, I’ve actually made a comment that views Zak in a somewhat favourable light.

            2. If that’s true (‘invested too much time on the Honda and Alonso aspects’), then that in itself would be a sackable offence.
              I’ve given up on Zak long ago. He came in as the marketing guy and delivered nothing but hot air (which was probably what is to be expected of a marketing guy).
              He then assumed the top job and hasn’t shown anything for it other than more hot air.
              – ‘Firing’ the guy responsible for racing whilst blaming him for the poor car design;
              – Big stories about the company being too top heavy and hiring more big names without a clear structure;
              – taking too long to hire and land a decent design guy (don’t expect miracles from Key, the 2019 STR is stronger than ever with little input by him);
              – settling for mediocre drivers. 1) I’m still a fan of Sainz, but his 2018 Renault drives should not have earned him a seat at McLaren; 2) a rookie in the other seat! not how you develop an underperforming chassis.

              What McLaren needs is a strong man at the helm (refer again to my comparison to Vasseur and Brawn) and not a web of matrix management committees.
              And for all I’ve seen Zak is not that strong man (and his ego is too big to step aside for the real strong man to step in).

            3. @coldfly

              that in itself would be a sackable offence

              IIRC, it’s only the board that can Zak, correct? So he’s obviously making all the right noises in their direction, as well as that of the Mid-East investment fund.

              What McLaren needs is a strong man at the helm (refer again to my comparison to Vasseur and Brawn)

              But hasn’t he appointed a person (the name eludes me) who is going to take over the reins of the F1 team, to do precisely what you’re asking for? And let Zak step back from heading the F1 team, so he can oversee McLaren’s wider motorsport activities.

              I fully agree that they’ve spent a lot of time to come to this point, there’s no denying that.

            4. who is going to take over the reins of the F1 team

              That’s Andreas Seidl, @phylyp. He’s been appointed MD at McLaren F1.
              But Zak remains CEO at McLaren Racing (and maybe the whole group), and I doubt he’ll stay out of operational F1 decisions.
              And what is de Ferran going to do?

              At least they’ll have enough deckchairs to go around ;)

            5. @coldfly – thanks for Seidl’s name! And yeah, that’s a very good question about de Ferran, given that the sporting director’s role (in Boullier’s time) felt like a way for Zak to hand off the nitty-gritties that he didn’t want to deal with (like Bob at FI), and that would be redundant with Andreas Seidl coming in.

            6. The hiring of Key and others is huge and he has brought in new sponsors.
              He has experience as he is the CEO of successful United Autosports.
              It’s obvious you have a case of anti anything American bias.
              Rome wasn’t built in a day.

            7. @coldfly

              We all saw what Fred Vasseur did at Sauber, or Brawn at Honda. That’s turning a team around.
              Zak seems to be merely moving the deckchairs.

              Well the problem here is that compared Sauber, Mclaren employed large corporate dysfunctional system that had so much inertia it took a few years to slow down and dismantle.

              I love what Freddy Vasseur has done at Sauber, its one of the greatest achievements in modern motorsport, but its not an apple to apple comparison is it? If Sauber had been operating under the Mclaren model, they would have gone under a long time ago.

              A big corporate organisation isn’t nimble…and Mclaren were about as nimble as a Ayers Rock.

        2. Mclaren is not a person and as such it can not hold these kinds of opinions. The leadership at mclaren has changed quite a few times after their last championship win and even then what the company is willing to say in public is typically very different what they say behind closed doors. There are no opinions there. Just business strategies, public relations and hard decisions you want to justify in interviews to make your company look good.

          We all know how catastrophic the honda engines were 2015-2018. All the negatives, none of the positives. No matter how bad the mclaren chassis was their honda engines were far worse. Even in 2018 honda had massive amounts of engine penalties. They might have had more pace than in previous years but the slip back in points in constructors’ championship with toro rosso tells it all.

          Honda has really created a miracle over the winter if this is their new form. They have completely re-invented themselves. They have done something that is borderline impossible. That being said the sector times from australian gp still show that honda has less power than the other top teams. Marko might publicly say the chassis needs to improve but so does the engine. Personally I expect it to be yet another honda failure season and based on what we have seen I’m so happy I was wrong. F1 needs more teams fighting for wins in every race and in worst case without honda’s possible success story we might have witnessed yet another total mercedes domination snoozefest. Especially now when ferrari seemes to have dropped the ball somewhat.

      2. Red Bull has 4 cars so they probably got more info than ever on winter testing whereas McLaren would not allow another team to use the Honda PU.

        And to make It worse the cars were flawed and they thought the low top speeds were because of the pu and it wasnt.

        1. Edvaldo, mind you, in the first one or two years, Honda indicated they didn’t have enough capacity to supply a second team with enough engines and technical support to operate them – that came when they built a second base of operations in Milton Keynes, which was intended to act as a local supply and support base.

      3. I was like this from the beginning of Mc-Honda reunion and now I am more and more convinced that most of these issues was not necessarily due to the engine itself. I mean, McLaren keeps blowing up engines for the second year in a row with another supplier. Yes, firstly Honda engine was also not powerful enough but the engine won’t break because it’s weak. Reliability issues, as far as I remember, were mostly with hydraulics, cooling and vibrations. Maybe it is more about engine integration then, huh? And then they even filmed a series about how Their Great Team and Their Greatest Driver suffered with those stupid japs. I think it would be better if they spend that money into researching and develepment of better ways to make a happy marriage between the engine and chassis. What, seems to me, RBR exactly did.

      4. I don’t see it as reaping the rewards. Rebbull took Honda in and decided to work with them instead of sitting waiting for a perfect engine to arrive. For an experienced team, Mclaren’s approach was unbelievable, they probably had got complacent from all those years of having a perfect Mercedes engines, however, their initial years with Mercedes back in the 90s were far from perfect. The same slow and unreliable, but without the added complexities of a turbo, MGU-H, MGU-K and massive batteries.

    3. Have RBR really turned a corner with their engine partners? Dr. Marko’s stating that they need more chassis improvements! Whoa, colour me surprised.

      Nice tweet by Ericsson. And a nice picture of Ocon in the RF tweet as well :) (Yeah, I know it’s been cherry-picked, hilarious nonetheless!)

      1. @phylyp: RBR have the best chassis on the grid – we know that – Horner they told us that – for years. Their biggest area of improvement will come from inter-executive hype coordination.

        1. @jimmi-cynic – to be fair, they’ve been well coordinated and on point (execs down to the drivers) in singing Honda’s praises through the winter break. I think the others are yet to realize Dr. Marko has now moved on to the second stanza of his paean. I’d like to see how Adrian reacts to that!

          1. @phylyp,@jimmi-cynic, Marko to Honda Boss, “I thought you said we should kiSSass”.

        2. Almost took your comment seriously. Didn’t recognize you over that fresh profile picture

          With that said. Isn’t Hype their competition?

          1. @johnmilk – don’t forget that the big daddy of energy drinks is now on the grid – it’s Rich all the way. Hype, Monster and RB all pale in comparison.

            1. @phylyp Leopard can’t come soon enough, they are the only ones with equivalent resources

    4. I’m guessing Dan Ric won’t be taking the pitlane shortcut on future track-walks. But then who’d-a-thunk-it, certainly he couldn’t see it from the cockpit ?

      1. BlackJackFan
        18th March 2019, 4:47

        For a while there I was thinking nobody else cared about this incredibly stupid, even criminally ignored circuit ‘feature’… Why on earth would such a thing be present on any race track, even non-permanent ones… And on the start-line as well…!
        The organisers should at least pay Renault for the damage. But how can they ever reimburse RIC…!?

        1. It will at least make drivers think twice before going outside the track

          1. He didn’t set out to go outside the track, he was sort of forced to make that decision

          2. @johns23) No, the start of a Grand Prix is one of the most spectacular events in the sporting world. Why take that away because of a lack of design knowledge on the part of the owners.

        2. BlackJackFan Look I do agree with you in principle as it is a safety issue. But Ricciardo should have picked it up on his track walk.
          Having said that Australian Grand Prix Corporation now knowing it is a problem should fix it.

          1. @johnrkh A track walk starts by walking out of pit-lane and ends at the start of the pit-lane. The start finish straight itself is never walked upon.

            1. @jeffreyj, Want to bet ?!

      2. @hohum – I missed it on the replay, but what feature of the circuit did Ricciardo hit to lose his front wing? I just thought that his off onto that part of the grass damaged it. Seeing the comments from all of you makes me realize there’s something I’m missing.

        1. @phylyp, There was a concrete footpath cut into the turf for access from pitwall to track.

          1. @hohum – thank you!

            1. BlackJackFan
              19th March 2019, 1:34

              Thanks… and this path seems to be higher than the turfed area around it, which is really clever…!

    5. I’m surprised Ricciardo is being so lax about his mistake. Renault will be looking for things to blame and when they paid $30 million for their star driver to desperately throw it away before the first corner on a move that really wasn’t necessary. Well, I’m just surprised there’s not more responsibility and assurance of improvement.

      Sure it was unlucky, but it wasn’t unavoidable in the slightest.

      1. BlackJackFan
        18th March 2019, 4:52

        Certainly unlucky… but this little circuit ‘feature’ should never have been there… Whether “the move was necessary” is irrelevant – and who are we to say, in the heat of the moment, what is “necessary”…?

        1. Don’t blame the circuit for a driver not completing his track walk.

          1. @coldfly No you can’t, but now that it has become an issue it should be fixed.

          2. BlackJackFan
            18th March 2019, 9:14

            One might more correctly blame the FIA representative who is responsible for circuit safety… An incident like this could have easily been much worse. ;-)

    6. Honda engine – BEST sounding engine on the grid this year (I am a Merc fan)

      Really loved the onboards from VER car. VTEC kicked in for sure on the 2019 Honda PU !!!

    7. Ocon’s situation isn’t great. If Bottas does well, Mercedes will keep him.for another year. And if Russell does well, why would they get Ocon? They’ll just move him over for Russell. Why waste time with Ocon if Russell is the future for them, if he shows true pace? Well see what happens but it’s not an easy situation for him!

      1. @fer-no65

        I feel they should just let drivers go when they can’t find them a race seat. There were plenty on teams on the grid that would have Ocon in 2019, but his strong ties to Mercedes backfired on him. Overall, I don’t think Ocon was as convincing a talent as a Verstappen or a Leclerc, where they would fire a driver to make space for him. So, if Valterri performs well this season, it’s probably game over for Ocon in the Mercedes camp. Spending two seasons off the race track isn’t viable either… so maybe Mercedes releasing him from his contract would be the best thing to do.

        1. Yes, but should’ve done that back in 2018, I’m surprised ocon didn’t push for it, it’s his contract after all.

          1. @esploratore

            He thought he was better than Bottas.. and that he would have a crack at it in 2020.

        2. They don’t even release their drivers to go race in FE image letting them go for other teams.

          Mercedes program is a yoke, a yoke

      2. IMHO….Mercedes is waiting to switch after the 2020 season. After the 2020 season, there is only 1 man who Ferrari and Mercedes will be fighting for….Verstappen. He will be THE key during the 2020 Silly Season.

        It would be the perfect time for Mercedes or Ferrari to get the true heir of Hamilton or Vettel within their ranks.

        1. @indiana
          Agree completely.

          In fact, I think if the Honda engine frustrates Max this year, he’ll be looking at breaking his contract a year early. I would put good money on Ferrari trying to swap him for Vettel with Red Bull.

          If it goes to 2020 though, I think Mercedes will make a huge play for Verstappen. I could easily see him driving for Mercedes in 2021.

      3. does anyone really miss Ocon? i sure don’t, never found his driving extra-special. Sure, he was a bit better in qualifying than Perez and on-par with Werhlein, but I can’t recall any memorable races that he put in (with the exception of crashing into his teammate a couple of times).

        1. scratch that, I do recall his atempt to unlap himself in Brazil, that was memorable.

          1. Good One!!!


        2. On par with WEH? He clearly was the faster one. And crashing into his teammate a couple of times? The only time was Baku ’17.

        3. @gechichan revisionist much? Perez repeatedly put him in the wall everytime he was faster.

          1. naaah, Baku was clear-cut Ocon’s fault. He obviuosly saw Perez on his right and kept squeezing him into the wall. That’s not OK when you are driving for a small team like FI.

            Singapore was equally their fault and Spa was clearly Perez guilty, but in my statement above i didn’t say the incidents were all caused by Ocon – i just said that’s what i remember him for.

    8. Did Haas forget to get team caps made?

      1. @travis, I noticed that too :-) At least they don’t look like school kids.

    9. I know it says 3500 lives but I had to double check just to make sure that FIA is now an olive company…
      #350 Olives

    10. I think Marko’s comments get misinterpreted slightly. He knows good and well the Honda Engine isn’t the best on the grid. He also knows well that after all that Honda and RedBull have thrown at the development of the engine there is not a huge step coming anytime soon. So RedBull needs to do what it has been doing the last couple of years: take what is there in performance and keep enhancing it by further improvement in the chassis and aero. They got Max on the podium consistently with Renault at the end of the year in 2018. If the Honda engine is better and the rest of the package is improved further then they can turn more podium finishes into more wins.. and that might be the ticket to fight for the title. The engine is good enough only if RedBull can do enough to close the gap that is there with the rest of the car. Max will then be in the position where it will depend on him. And knowing what he is capable of he will not disappoint.

      1. Agree. I guess the people at Honda will have the urge to do better and better no matter the costs. The combo with them, Red Bull and Verstappen resulting in a podium in the first race of this year, will motivate the people at Honda even more. Red Bull will not stay behind and fine tune the cars.

    11. I wonder if Lewis sent him birthday wishes ;)

    12. Regarding the COTD:
      The first part: I hope so.
      Second: The permanent more conventional circuits will give a better picture of RBR’s chances against Mercedes and Ferrari.
      Third: I hope Ferrari’s lack of pace was just a one-off and that they’d be back on form in Bahrain and from there onwards.

      Re Glenn Freeman’s tweet: We shall wait and see, but I wouldn’t worry too much about the effectiveness of the bigger DRS-flap (at least not just yet.) In the end, there are only really a couple of circuits where overtaking has at times looked easy regardless of whether it’s been solely down to DRS or not, and those are Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and Spa.

    13. On the frontpage, in the roundup summary it mentions a Mercedes turnaround, what turnaround are we speaking of? Apart from sky did anyone believe they weren’t favourites?

      1. @johnmilk – where have you been?! They were struggling in testing, man. Struggling, I tell ya.

        At one point, to set a representative testing lap, the whole crew had to come out and push the car around.

        I haven’t seen it myself, but I also heard that the press got a photo of Claire smiling at the thought that Williams might not be last this year.

        It truly is a Mercedes March Miracle, you heathen doubter.

        1. @phylyp this is gold for Netflix, the best underdog history ever! Punching well above their weight

      2. @johnmilk depends on one definition of favourite. To me Ferrari looked to be the #1 favourites but Mercedes would definitely fight for the title (even if a little behind at the beginning), so #2 favourites.
        My own opinion for the Winter testing was that this would be the closest season for Mercedes since 2014 … and it still can be.

        1. @bakano Mercedes has been dominant since the hybrid era begun. Ferrari managed to get close last year but it took so much out of them that they went into a wrong development path and their driver became a spare time baker specialised on donuts (no glazing). Still at the end it felt like it was a championship destined for Mercedes. Why are we selling this idea, again, that Mercedes isn’t the number one favourite? They have won everything until last season…

          1. @johnmilk I’m not selling any idea, it was my idea after testing and to be honest I’m still not sure that Mercedes will run away with the title. I cannot comment if Autosport/Motorsport had an agenda or not…
            Am I not entitled to have a different opinion? Years of the domination in the past is not a guarantee of continuous domination (even without major changes) as plenty of previous examples, in many different areas, have shown us already…

            1. @bakano not aimed at you, sorry if it sounded that way. You are more then entitle to have your opinion

      3. @johnmilk

        Lol.. I saw Autosport’s review of the Australian Grand Prix. Where they admitted they were shocked and dumbfounded that Mercedes won the race. They couldn’t believe the turnaround Mercedes made. They went as far as saying it was an amazing feat that caught them all out.

        It’s funny… because someone who isn’t an expert, and didn’t watch F1 pre season testing, would probably put money on Mercedes winning the first race just like it’s been capable of doing for the past 5 seasons in a row.

        So much for pundits I tell you.

        1. @todfod they do everything the same year in year out, they always start better than the others despite pre-season testing. I wonder what is to gain by selling this image, both for Mercedes and the journalists. I don’t get it

          It’s fun though

    14. Fantastic gesture from Lewis having a photo with all the paps.

    15. José Lopes da Silva
      18th March 2019, 14:06

      British media spent months and months aligning with McLaren against Honda and then guessing big trouble for Red Bull due to Honda choice.

      First race of 2019, Honda gets a podium while McLaren gets a smoking engine by lap 10.

      Everyone praises Bottas.

    16. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
      18th March 2019, 14:36

      @gechichan – My thoughts exactly! Ocon is definitely a very good driver, but I think most people rate him higher than he actually is. He put in solid results in 2 years at Force India but there are no incredible drives that come to mind. I think he is good, but not as good as Verstappen or Leclerc who I believe to be future world champion material. Ocon was slightly better than Perez in general, although not by much, and I dob’t think he’d do much better than Bottas did in 2018 to be honest. I feel sorry for Wherlein as he looked quite strong in his 2 years at F1, similar level to Ocon I’d say, yet Ocon was promoted to Force India rather than him and Whelrein eventually ended up without a seat. The fact that he isn’t in F1 anymore whilst there is potential for Ocon to go to Mercedes seems odd to me – Wherlein was a talent that never got a proper chance.

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