Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has said he believes the Milton Keynes-based team can win Formula 1 races on merit before the end of the 2017 season.
The Austrian says that Daniel Ricciardo’s opportunistic victory in Baku showed that Red Bull is going in the right direction, although ongoing reliability problems for Max Verstappen remain a cause for frustration, after the Dutchman retired with an early engine failure.
“It’s very, very important because we had such a bad start to the season, and now we improved,” Marko said. “We couldn’t show it in qualifying, but we knew our speed was good.
“Daniel was running in safe mode, not with the extra, because what happened with Max, we were careful. The direction is OK, and I hope that at the right circuit, we can win on our own.
“I thought winning from fifth may be possible, but from 10th place and then dropping back to 17th? We were always there and he drove a faultless race like he did in the last four races, and we were just matching the speed, and they couldn’t catch us.
“A victory is a victory. Max’s time will come, we just have to wait. For him it’s really now four times not finishing out of six races. It is really tough, and to see his team mate winning is also not easy.
“Our chassis is good, we are bringing updates, Renault is working on the engine, As I said we still think we can win races on our own during the rest of the season.”
Marko’s initial belief was that debris could have contributed to Verstappen’s failure.
“We had parts in the brake duct of Ricciardo and we had to stop, we had a big part in the cooling area from Max,” he explained. “Maybe the engine problem is resulting from overheating before this part fell away.
“It was a big piece of carbon fibre, but it blew away, unfortunately after three laps.”
Although outside influences may have played a part, the ongoing reliability problems remain a concern for both Red Bull teams.
“That we have to overcome, and it doesn’t help to complain,” Marko added. “We had a discussion together with Renault, how we could make things better.
“We have to work even more closely, with all these little incidents. It’s not only with us, it’s with Toro Rosso, Renault itself, to make sure that nothing is happening twice.”