Red Bull Racing advisor Dr. Helmut Marko says that the company’s immediate plans will not be affected should Renault ultimately decide to buy Lotus.
Marko insisted that RBR is committed to Renault for next year, but acknowledged that beyond that, the future is open.
“It doesn’t affect us,” said Marko. “We have our contracts [for 2016], and if Renault decides to buy a team or whatever, fine. But 2017 is a different story. We are looking into everything. There’s always a saying, never say never. We’re looking for options.”
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Marko played down the possibility of VW/Audi or any other new manufacturer being ready to compete in 2017.
“This power unit is such a complicated thing, you know. It’s not that you say, ‘OK, we do it.’ You have a lead-time of three years, and if you make such a decision it’s a heavy financial investment. If I’m on the board of a big car manufacturer, I want to see, ‘Where is F1 going, what are the rules, is there stability?’ There are too many question marks, I would say.”
Meanwhile, Marko admitted that the delayed introduction of Renault’s token upgrades has been frustrating.
“It’s disappointing, but unfortunately there’s nothing that we can do. With Daniel [Ricciardo], I’m sure we have to change engines twice, which means 10 places back. Most likely the first one will be in Monza. It’s unfortunately a season that we never had before.”
Marko said that the double podium in Hungary was a boost for the team and, while it showed that the chassis is getting better, he expects the next two races to be particularly hard.
“Of course we were lucky with the safety car, but we were unlucky with the start and the two collisions Daniel had, because there was a chance of a win. Both drove a very, very good race and the strategy to use the soft tire at the end was the right thing.
“It was not a power track, but the updates we are making, they are working, so the whole car is far more together, and the drivers have confidence. We had been on our back foot, and we recovered. To do this just before the summer break was more than important.
“But it will be very different in Monza and Spa. We need rain in Spa to be anywhere near the top. With this deficit on horsepower, it’s just impossible.”