Following their dominant display at the Bahrain GP, this weekend Red Bull will be aiming for a second consecutive win of the 2023 season to put themselves firmly in the hot seat for the World Championship.
Helmut Marko acknowledges that Red Bull were surprised by the major problems facing their rivals. Ferrari replicated a 2022 issue by having problems with tyre wear, while the Mercedes W14 simply struggled to match them on pace.
"We have done our homework well," Marko summarised in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.
"Things which were not optimal about our car last year, we optimised. We were very surprised to see that Ferrari had the same problems as last season, and with Mercedes the problems are even bigger," the long-time Red Bull adviser said.
Fears of the competition may well be justified, as the budget cap makes it difficult to make big developments during the season, which is something Marko believes will prevent complete car redesigns.
"How quickly they can correct the problems, I don't know," Marko added.
"Mercedes, I think, can do it faster than Ferrari, but of course we also have to deal with the budget cap. As a result, they will not be able to build a B-version of the car."
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The impact of Aston Martin?
There have been no major shocks in F1's pecking order for 2023. Red Bull have so far continued at the front of the field, with Ferrari and Mercedes behind.
The exception to this is Aston Martin who, equipped with ex-Red Bull employee Dan Fallows, are competing against Ferrari and Mercedes so far in 2023.
Marko, though, insists that he holds no grudge against Fallows, who is now Technical Director at Aston Martin.
"Aston Martin is the positive surprise of this season," said Marko.
"This is part of Formula 1 and politics, it happens all the time. That's how we acquired Adrian Newey from McLaren and Pierre Waché from Sauber at the time."
A full 23 wins?
Does Marko believe in an ultra dominant season in which Red Bull wins all the races? McLaren came closest to doing so in 1988, with 15 wins from 16 races, but a 'full house' is yet to be seen in F1.
"That is of course an extraordinary goal, but it would not be realistic. We also have Sprint races that we don't know if the format will still be adjusted or not," responded Marko.
"Last year in Brazil, for example, we also saw that the data didn't match the simulator and we couldn't do anything more to adjust. Things like that can happen. Or like in Austria last year, where Charles Leclerc was able to handle tyre wear much better than we did."
Join RacingNews365.com journalists Michael Butterworth and Dieter Rencken as they discuss all the key talking points ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.