Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko is hopeful that the Renault engine’s big upgrade, slated for the Canadian GP, will allow his team to fight with current F1 frontrunners Mercedes and Ferrari.
Considered by many the outfit most likely to take the fight to Mercedes with F1’s new technical regulations, Red Bull was quiet during pre-season testing and then endured a tough season opener in Australia.
Max Verstappen was its lead qualifier in fifth place, 1.297 seconds off pole, and then finished the race in the same position behind both Ferrari and Mercedes drivers, 28.827s off winner Sebastian Vettel.
Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko says his outfit is expecting a Renault upgrade at the Spanish Grand Prix in May, and then a bigger step in Montreal a month later, but concedes its RB13 also needs development.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” he told Motorsport.com.
“The race speed makes us think positively. But from our side there is a lot to do, and Renault’s side as well.
“Montreal is their biggest step. Something smaller is coming in Barcelona, but a reasonable step in Montreal.”
Asked if the Renault upgrades would be enough to move his team up the order, Marko said: “We hope so, if we improve our chassis dramatically as well.
“Our engineers think so, and the simulations say so, also.”
Meanwhile, Marko admitted that he had expected the 2017 rules to have made a bigger difference in terms of laptimes.
“I think it was a positive race, but I was so fixed on Verstappen that I didn’t look at many other things. But we were only two seconds faster, and that was a little bit of a disappointment.”