FEBRUARY 29, 2024

Alonso's wild claim about Red Bull dominance realistic

Dr Helmut Marko had to smile in Bahrain when asked about Fernando Alonso's prediction of another sure-fire title for Max Verstappen this year.

Red Bull RB20
© Red Bull

Alonso said that, based on last week's pre-season test, all 19 drivers except the reigning triple world champion know they will not win the drivers' title in 2024.

That's realistic, Marko smiled to Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

Seriously, I think Ferrari has become stronger and things could get tight in qualifying between Max and (Charles) Leclerc, who is one of the best qualifiers, he said.

The biggest surprise about Red Bull's pre-season form, however, is not that the team remains in front - but that they've managed to do it with a new-concept car - reminiscent of the scrapped Mercedes concept of 2022-2023.

Mercedes now has a more 2023-like Red Bull concept car - with George Russell admitting it still hasn't eliminated the team's struggles with 'bouncing'.

At the same time, Sky Deutschland pundit and former F1 driver Timo Glock says he's heard rumours that at Suzuka in April, Red Bull may unveil an update that adds an even more radical 'no sidepods' look to the 2024 car.

In the end, it's a slap in the face for Mercedes, who pursued the concept for two years and had to eventually abandon it because they didn't understand it, said the German.

Then Red Bull comes around the corner and goes down the same path that Mercedes took unsuccessfully, and they seem to have made it work. That's outstanding.

Although with probably the second-fastest 2024 car so far, Ferrari - like Mercedes - also needs to take the lesson from Red Bull, Carlos Sainz admitted in Bahrain.

The first impression you get is that they are six months, a year ahead, the Spaniard said. "The rest of us have all come to this first race with a car more similar to theirs from last year.

So it gives you a bit of a feeling that it is a car that seems to have a little bit of an advantage in terms of the way they develop.

Red Bull's Marko agrees, hailing his engineers for being able to go to the extremes with the 2023-to-2024 step without risking it being a flop.

The word conservative simply does not exist in the minds of our engineers around Pierre Wache and Adrian Newey, he said. "That is also part of Red Bull's DNA.

I think we've surprised everyone with this car - one look at the narrow sidepods is enough. You can also see that the entire field is now, let's say, based on our (old) car.