Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko believes Mercedes will be a stronger opponent than Ferrari next season. In an interview with the German publication Bild, Marko was asked about his projections for next year - which rival would be the biggest challenge for Red Bull. He promptly claimed that Mercedes would be a more significant challenge, given that the team could be seen rectifying issues throughout their failing season.
In 2021, Red Bull and Mercedes were locked in a close title battle that went down to the last minute of the final race. But in 2022, Mercedes couldn't keep up with the new regulations. Their final race of the season ended anti-climactically with a Hamilton DNF. But Mercedes drivers pushed the cars to rank higher throughout their lackluster season. This resulted in podium and pole finishes.
According to Helmut Marko:
"Ferrari is strong, but Mercedes will be stronger as a whole. Especially with a driver like Lewis Hamilton. He's still a top pilot. Although Ferrari also has a very good driver in Leclerc, he still makes mistakes."
Marko didn't feel that Lewis Hamilton not winning a race all season would be an issue next season. The Austrian is confident that Max Verstappen will be able to defend the title next season. Marko said,
"Unfortunately, I'm afraid not. Mercedes fought their way to us over the year. Although they are not yet at eye level, they have more time in the wind tunnel to develop the car. But I'm not too worried. We are on the right track for 2023 and with Max we have the best driver in the field."
"We want to be similarly dominant in 2023" - Red Bull
When asked what the team's target for the future was, Marko said that the team wanted to continue its dominance this season. Red Bull was already working on reliability, which cost the team a couple of DNFs this season. It will be one of the focus areas for the team. He said,
"We want to be similarly dominant in 2023. Even if it is very difficult, there is always room for improvement. We have room for improvement in terms of reliability. In the first three races we retired three times due to a technical defect. And in Brazil the set-up wasn't right. We had an exceptional season, but not everything was perfect. And we still need a perfect day to beat Mercedes and Ferrari."
Red Bull's battle with Mercedes and Ferrari will be exciting to watch next season. It remains to be seen if there will be any adverse effects of the team losing 10% of its development time for next season.