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Marko expects Ferrari won’t be as strong in 2020

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In the round-up: Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko believes his team and Mercedes will be the top championship contenders in the 2020 F1 season.

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An extended stay at Red Bull makes sense for Max Verstappen, says Dom:

It just makes sense. 2021 is going to be so different that people can’t use 2020 to gauge how a team is likely to perform in 2021. He’s at team who’s aero is always there, is renowned for doing well when regulations change, is 100% focused around him. The engines are converging, and cars are more likely to be able to race so if Red Bull aren’t out in front of everyone else, he’ll believe his natural talent will be enough to get him to the top. Why move?

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  • 50 comments on “Marko expects Ferrari won’t be as strong in 2020”

    1. Helmut Marko knows as much about Ferrari’s future performance as my neighbor’s fox terrier.

      1. Maybe. Honda has definitely come good. Aston Martin could have designed less ugly cars, I like their logo though some say we might see it on the racing point.

        1. @peartree It would be interesting since there’s gossip that the other team that was investigated / targeted by the TD is RBR and Honda. Ferrari might lose their 2019 engine advantage the most, but Honda might also lose some. On the other side, Mercedes have a full year of ideas on improving their performance since their updates seems focused on reliability last year and Renault… well they hopefully made some improvements. Engine wise, I don’t see any substantial changes in pecking order since 2021 changes does not affects engines. Mercedes will still be overall better, Ferrari is close behind, Honda and Renault will still trading blows for 3rd with RBR chassis probably elevated Honda results above Renault.

          1. @sonicslv
            There is no gossip that the TD was targeted at RBR/Honda, literally zero. (Link source if you disagree)
            You are confused with the FIA impounding 3 fuel systems after the Brazilian GP; One from Ferrari, one from Alfa and one from Honda to compare. There is absolutely nothing suggesting Honda was being aimed by the TD.
            And Mercedes focussed on reliability? Where does that idea come from? Last I checked the latest Merc spec engine had more reliability issues than the Honda and the Renault.
            And what makes you think Mercedes still has the best engine? All the people with half a brain and lots of inside knowledge saying that Honda is basically on par with Mercedes and Ferrari is still ahead by a little margin?

          2. I have a feeling mercedes will still be the best overall package (driver/car/engine/team) for a number of reasons, not least because they have that winning habit, which seems hard to break (but is of course a massive amount of hard work to maintain). they will still be motivated to win (sweeping all 7 titles of this ‘era’ would be a huge achievement, the greatest by a team in the history of the sport) and they will have diverted resources to this year’s car earlier than in previous seasons (the titles were realistically wrapped up by july), although i suspect ferrari will have done the same. ferrari’s task is to decide if their 2019 concept was a blind alley or a tricky car to get on top of that actually has a lot of potential. if the former, then they have a blank slate to try something else (for one year before the new regs come in). if the latter, then they could be a force to be reckoned with. all up in the air.

            red bull looked better towards the end of last year, but verstappen seemed to be outperforming the car at times (albon looked pretty ordinary in some races). marko is spouting off right now, as he has to, but there hasn’t been much to back it up over the last 2 years.

            one big question is engine development – we all saw hamilton get out-dragged by gasly on the last lap in brazil and while one example at the end of a wacky race is no evidence to base much on, it still felt like an indicator of the progression of honda. one great strength of the mercedes engine has been reliability, though they had some issues this year with the spec 3(?) edition, so that is something that might make them a little more conservative when designing 2020’s engine.

            1. Just a small note here…No one can outperform the car. It is an impossibility.

            2. No one can outperform the car. It is an impossibility.

              except for Fred Flintstone,
              and Alonso of course ;)

          3. @sonicslv Honda has made a point of saying that once loopholes and gray areas were closed, they will be competitive. They wouldn’t say this if they were doing something funny. They say it because others are, and they want parity.

      2. @greenflag, unfortunatell the same is equally true about Ferrari themselves.

    2. Cristiano Ferreira
      8th January 2020, 1:41

      Well its not something Helmut Marko can predict, that’s for sure. Hell, he even missed the mark when he predicted that Red Bull, his own team were going to win 5 or 6 races with Honda in 2019.

      Its more of a wishful thinking than anything else.

      1. Helmut did better than me, I thought they’d finish somewhere in the midfield with lots of “Retired” classifications, but no, there wasn’t any Honda relevant issue related retirement.

        1. @drycrust I never expected them to drop into the midfield in the first place, but remain third at the very worst still clear of the rest.

      2. @Cristiano Ferreira
        Yeah, he was way of the mark, right?
        It’s not that they could have won Hungary and Mexico also……and with Ferrari not suddenly “finding” a huge performance gain they might have even won more!

        1. Cristiano Ferreira
          8th January 2020, 13:24

          Well Oconomo, they didn’t won and in the end that’s what matters when we are talking about predictions, right? :P

          1. He only promised 5 wins (not ‘race wins’), #Cristiano Ferreira.
            With the 3 race wins and 3 quali wins in 2019 he beat that ;)

            1. @coldfly Love it. Great remark.!

          2. @Cristiano Ferreira
            Lol, it’s F1…….arguably the sport where historically all results are scrutineered to find out what actually happened.
            And scrutineering Helmut’s predictions, he came extremely close.
            Danny Ric finished ninth…does that make him the ninth best driver on the grid?

          3. To be more accurate, the quote was he expected ‘at least five wins’ – five wins’ was his minimum estimate.

            Mind you, Marko did also massively underestimate Mercedes’s pace – declaring that Red Bull were 0.3-0.4s a lap ahead and that Mercedes was third fastest at best – whilst simultaneously overestimating Ferrari’s pace and underestimating the development rate of both teams (having predicted Red Bull would easily out-develop both teams).

        2. Oconomo, Ferrari could have realisticly won in Bahrain, Baku, Canada, Austria, Russia, Japan and Mexico (besides the 3 races which they did win). It’s doesn’t really mean much though since they managed to not win those races.

    3. I think Marco knows a little something a out bow the rule clarifications has affected Ferrari.

      1. He knows nothing.
        Everyone jumped on the bandwagon when they THOUGHT Ferrari was caught cheating.
        Turns out there wasn’t any evidence even after the investigation, that was a good laugh.

    4. Marko actually said to Auto Bild “Our opponent will be Mercedes, especially Lewis Hamilton,”. He also made a very bold prediction I would say that the combination of Max and RB will win this season’s CC. Very bold I repeat.

      1. the combination of Max and RB will win this season’s CC. Very bold I repeat.

        @lems – agreed. While there is not insignificant chance of Max bagging the WDC (with a bit of luck, and Ferrari doing Ferrari things), to aim at the WCC needs both drivers to deliver well, especially in light of their competition having at least one capable driver each. That prediction of Dr. Marko places a lot of confidence – and pressure! – on Albon’s shoulders.

        1. Isn’t that exactly what Marko does though – put extreme pressure on everyone and then see if they rise to the occasion or not (in which case he drops them like a stone immediately) @phylyp, @lems.

          But you are right, to challenge the WCC for real, it needs Red Bull to have made a great chassis out of the box for the first time in years, it needs Verstappen to be at his best, it needs Albon to step up and it needs Honda to really deliver but without using too many pieces this time.
          And it probably needs Mercedes to not find much of an improvement (we can surely rely on Ferrari to shoot their own foot again)

          1. Indeed @bascb, a great chassis; and let’s hope they start from a strong base next season.

            Because surely they have been great at honing their car, but while the COTD is right Red Bull are renowned for getting it right upon regulation changes, the evidence does not quite support that. Newey did it for McLaren in 1998, and his Red Bull concept was the best for 2009, but even then he missed a trick in the double diffuser, which gave Brawn the title.

            But In 2014 it wasn’t just the engine that lacked, their car also wasn’t top, and in 2016 they got it slightly of wrong again (again, not just a lack of grunt from the engine), as they did for last year. They fixed their car, with time, but the season was lost. Wouldn’t bet on them getting it just perfect for the start of 2021, though it is possible.

            1. @bosyber a silver bullet like the double diffuser scenario is always a possibility, but remember that Red Bull have also been known to have some tricks up their sleeve. Designing their car around the blown diffuser paid off nicely for them, even when others tried to copy their concepts. The fact that the engines will be much closer the next regulation change will likely be a big advantage for them too. How sick would Verstappen be if he left Red Bull and then Red Bull came so good that they won the WCC/WDC?

            2. “With ten Constructors’ Championships he has won more than any other designer and is the only designer to have won constructors’ titles with three different Formula One teams, while six different drivers have won the Drivers’ Championship driving Newey’s designs. After designing championship-winning Formula One cars for Williams F1 and McLaren, Newey moved to Red Bull Racing in 2007, his cars winning the Formula One drivers’ and constructors’ championships consecutively from 2010 to 2013.[1] Newey designs also won the 1985 and 1986 CART titles.[2]”

              Let’s not make it sound like AN is just another designer who can miss tricks. Yup, sure, everyone but Brawn missed the double diffuser trick, which btw was only declared legal between the first two races of the 2009 season. In the second half of the season Newey and the rest caught up to that innovation, Brawn (and Button) having scored the bulk of their points in the first half. Then obviously 2010 to 2013 became a Newey related dynasty.

              Come 2014, the most complex formula ever, by far, there has never been more importance and emphasis on the marriage between the engine and chassis, as braking is tied in through energy recovery and massively affects how the car feels and reacts for the drivers. Without a competitive Renault Pu, Newey’s hands were tied, yet in spite of Renault lagging (still to this day) Max and DR still have managed some wins, which again really highlights Newey’s genius.

              I’m not pointing this out like it therefore means some guarantee that Marko’s prediction will come true for 2020, but at least let’s keep in mind why more than a few within F1 over the years have said Adrian Newey is more valuable to the team he is on than any one driver has ever been to an F1 team.

              I am not one bit surprised that Max has gone ahead and re-upped with the likes of Adrian Newey, and the combination of even just those two blokes is why Honda, imho, will stay while they have these treasures on board, and will see a competitive number of seasons through while the massive potential is there.

          2. @bascb fully agreed. Albon needs to step up massively if they are to have a shot at the WCC. Trust Marko to up the pressure.

        2. @phylyp, As much as I see this season’s WCC going Mercedes’ way, because of the driver combination, bullet proof reliability compared to others and the efficiency with which they do do their operations, the WDC for me isn’t that certain. If RB will provide a car that is as good as the best, then Max “can” win this season’s WDC. For Albon I don’t really think he’s at VB’s level to help them challenge for the WCC.

    5. Marko can say whatever he wants, but Ferrari enjoys a healthy power advantage for a last few seasons.

      If they fix design issues from last year they should be close to the top.

      This by no means fixes their strategy and operational issues however, neither does it fix driver issues.

      RedBull should have them licked in those areas + Honda is now better and better. If Mercedes drops the ball (unlikely) RedBull will be title contenders, simply because they are reliable in their track operations.

    6. Aston Martin Racing Point is soon going to become a reality if the stakes are getting cheaper for Lawrence Stroll to buy in.

    7. Not even a single wheel has been turned for testing yet, so way too early to rule Ferrari out, and make definite conclusions about the season in general.

      1. @jerejj, you may have a point. But this is the internet – it doesn’t wait for reality to show up.

    8. I bet Toto doesn’t agree with Marko…..

      1. I bet you’re right. Toto definitely think it’ll be between Red Bull and Ferrari. Mercedes will not be close obviously.

    9. I don’t know that much about the Dakar, but that article confirms my opinion that it’s for people who think that the Isle of Man TT is for wimps and the Nordschleife is too safe. I’m (fairly) sure that safety has improved since 1986 but still, big respect to anyone who takes part!

    10. My take is simply this…. Marko is doing what he always does, creating noise especially during this slow period of the new year. He needs to say these things for Honda’s sake and also to big up his boy. To write Ferrari off at this stage is, IMO, a folly. As if he’d have access to Ferrari’s new for 2020 car!!! No, he’s just bragging and trying to put one over the others. Easy to vent but he has to come up with the goods and that’s an entirely different matter.

      1. I don’t disagree with what you have said, but then last year I didn’t think RBR would even win one race as I thought they and Honda would be undergoing an understandable teething season, it being their first season together (setting aside the STR/Honda season in 2018), and Honda previously still showing unreliability issues.

        If RBR can improve a little more this year, relatively, than Mercedes and Ferrari do, then I’m sure Max can be a force in more races this season, and hopefully even starting from race one, now that they have a season with Honda under their belt that saw them only get stronger last year.

        But for sure, we’ll only know when we know. There is a reason why they run all the races before they hand out the trophies. Many many things can and will happen between now and the last race of 2020, that’s a guarantee.

      2. Despite it all…Marko wasn’t really far off….
        Max would have won in Mexico if it wasn’t for that puncture, he would have finished 2nd in Silverstone for sure and Hungary was awful close. RBR got it all wrong in Singapore while Ferrari was… ehm doing things.
        One can never predict the precise outcome, but Marko predicted a potential which was quite close.

        I also think RBR got it spot on with their suggestions regarding the TD, they simply knew, or at least where very close.
        Pace just doesn’t come overnight and doesn’t go overnight

    11. Helmut is right. Ferrari were cheating almost all season by disrupting the fuel flow sensor. Now they’ve been caught, they’ve lot their advantage.

      1. Hopefully Ferrari will have come up with better ways of cheating for 2020.

    12. Aston Martin need to roll out more Chelsea Tractors. Porsche swallowed their heritage and now print money with the Cayenne and Macan.

      1. Porsche swallowed their heritage and now print money with the Cayenne and Macan.

        Porsche swallowed their heritage when they introduced the 924 and when it attached a diesel batch on the flank.

    13. Red Bull performed worse in 2019 than they did in 2018. So it’s not like they have been showing great progress themselves. Of course Ferrari underperformed even more in 2019, so it made Red Bull look slightly less worse off.

      Still Ferrari have the better engine and they should be able to fix their aero. With the #1 driver nomination debacle hopefully sorted, they should be able to mess up a bit less on strategy side too.

      On the other hand, Newey is usually better with evolutions with more stable regulations (not so much on bigger regulation changes like 2019). So who knows they could improve their car more than the other teams and finally get it right from the start.

      I’d say that looking at how 2019 ended, it’s clear Mercedes and Ferrari would have the better start to 2020. Neither of them had to focus on 2019 season development till the very end either. So Red Bull would have to perform relatively a lot better to end up ahead.

      1. @f1osaurus Of course as you know I don’t share your pessimistic view of how 2019 went for RBR, and I’m quite sure RBR thinks the opposite as you too.

        Ferrari? Yeah we’ll just have to see. They should have started last season on the trot based on pre-season testing so who knows with them. One race at a time and we’ll see how they will manage their two drivers who as we know may or may not obey a team order depending on the day.

        Can’t agree with your assumption that it is clear Mercedes and Ferrari will start out the stronger in 2020. I find nothing substantive in your reasoning for that claim. Do you really have any idea of what the three top teams were doing as the season wound down? Not saying I do either. I would think that because the orders of the Championships were fairly set fairly far from the end of the season, and there is rules stability from last year to this they would have all just kept honing things, probably trying some things that might translate to this year’s car, and otherwise equally amongst the three all working on their new cars in conjunction with the existing, all at pretty much the same time, as per usual.

        In RBR’s case they were never going to oust Ferrari from second in the WCC nor be overtaken for third by Mac, and it was then just a matter of how high Max could finish, which was to oust both Ferrari drivers in the WDC by the end of the season. Not sure how that momentum will catch them out vs Mercedes and Ferrari for the start of this season.

      2. @f1osaurus

        Red Bull performed worse in 2019 than they did in 2018.

        Verstappen won more races and scored more points in 2019 than he did in 2018.

        The main reason why Red Bull performed worse as a team overall is because Gasly and Albon are not on the same level as Ricciardo.

        If Red Bull still had Ricciardo in the other seat in 2019, I reckon they would have finished ahead of Ferrari in the WCC.

        1. @kingshark So we agree, Red Bull performed worse in 2019 than 2018. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a useless remark!

          1. @f1osaurus
            Because of the drivers, not the car.

            1. @kingshark Either way, Red Bull performed worse. It’s the same team next year.

              Besides, you are just guessing. For all we know Ricciardo would have taken one or two of those wins away from Verstappen.

    14. It has often been said that Ferrari do their racing with flair and passion, while others prefer science and technology.

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