In F1, a common say is that the championship is not over until it is mathematically over. This is a philosophy that Dr. Helmut Marko, the sporting director of the Redbull Racing team is very keen to embrace. As it stands, the Milton-Keynes based team ranks 2nd on the constructors leaderboard, 106 points adrift of Mercedes, with its star driver Max Verstappen 47 points shy from the championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
However, Marko has not yet written off the 2020 world title’s bid. He hopes the ascending form curve of his team and the potential weakening of Mercedes through the ban on qualifying modes will lead to a turnaround. According to the Austrian manager, the season is only halfway through, and he duly reminded his team’s comeback in 2012, after trailing a 60 points disadvantage mid season. "The World championship is still wide open. We are not even halfway through. I only remember 2012. At the midpoint, we were over 60 points behind Alonso and Ferrari. Okay, Alonso and Ferrari are not Hamilton and Mercedes. But at some point they have to stop winning everything."
Red Bull are still missing the points they lost due to Verstappen and Albon’s cars failures at the season opener in Spielberg. According to Marko, the Dutchman could have won the race, had he not encountered car’s problems in the early stages, just like Alexander Albon, who got entangled with Hamilton shortly before the end.
Despite enduring the domination of Mercedes in the following races, Redbull sees nonetheless, a clear increase from the Belgian GP onwards. The gap in qualifying shrank, and during the race, Verstappen was able to keep up the pace at the front for a long time, even though Spa, as a power track, is not normally one of Red Bull's preferred hunting grounds. Marko said in this regard: "Contrary to expectations, we have been quicker than expected in Belgium. We brought a new front wing, which had a very positive effect. It's still not the optimal package, but we are on the right path." For him also, the progress of the car can be seen particularly well in the performance of Alex Albon: "Albon has now gained confidence. He was relatively close to Max in all sessions. Of course, it is also better for the tyre wear if the car is more predictable and makes no movements that lead to slipping".
For the final turnaround in the championship fight, Marko is now relying on the ban on qualifying mode. Starting in Monza, all teams have to operate with a single engine mapping from Saturday to Sunday. "It was very important to us that [those engine modes got] abolished. We [already] put the necessary pressure on us". As it is, the 77 years-old revealed that "the qualifying mode is so extreme at Mercedes that it is already distorting competition".
In the end, Marko, satisfied with the FIA intervention, recalled that Red Bull was regularly slowed down by the policing body during its successful phase at the beginning of the last decade. "It is an intervention that we have experienced many times when we dominated. The wing flexibility has been changed from one race to the next and again for the next race. I don't even need to talk about the blown diffuser. It is also the responsibility of the authority to ensure balanced, exciting races”.