The true gap revealed: Marko downplays Red Bull’s stunning test triumph

Red Bull’s running of its 2024 car on the Bahrain test track sent ripples through the Formula 1 paddock, with their radical design outpacing rivals by a significant margin. Christian Horner, despite the swirling rumors about his position, couldn’t help but join in the team’s evident joy. Dr. Helmut Marko, with a hint of mischief, commented on the performance gap, “Maybe they didn’t copy the latest model,” as Red Bull’s closest competitor, Lando Norris of McLaren, couldn’t bridge the gap to Max Verstappen’s leading time by even a second.

Ferrari’s Frederic Vasseur, while denying any attempts to emulate Red Bull’s now-obsolete 2023 design, acknowledged the daunting challenge ahead, “We haven’t started copying anyone. If you do, you’re always one step behind.” Yet, the appearance of innovative air intakes next to Verstappen’s cockpit by Red Bull suggests a leap in design thought, underscoring Adrian Newey’s philosophy, “We knew that the others would copy us. If we had simply developed last year’s car a bit more, it would not have been enough.”

Marko sought to moderate the enthusiasm about the gap Red Bull demonstrated, attributing part of their testing success to strategic tire choices during cooler temperatures, “We were the only ones who took to the track with fresh medium tyres in the cool evening hours,” he explained, suggesting a more modest performance advantage of “three tenths.”

Mercedes’ Andrew Shovlin observed a tight contest among the chasing pack, asserting, “There’s almost nothing between Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin and us. But one thing is clear – Red Bull are ahead.” This sentiment was echoed by George Russell, who found the new Mercedes design more pleasant to handle compared to its predecessor. Toto Wolff, however, emphasized the importance of speed over comfort, “But if it’s slow, that won’t help us,” acknowledging Red Bull’s swift pace, “The base we have now is better than last year, but the Red Bull is fast.”

Marko highlighted the gamble Red Bull took with their design, contrasting their success with Mercedes’ past struggles, “Radical change is always a risk. Look at Mercedes – they had problems, while our car worked from the first lap. That’s why we’re all smiling.”

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