Dr Helmut Marko is perfectly willing to accept that Red Bull will win a third consecutive drivers’ championship in 2023.
This weekend in Baku, a tweaked format for the first sprint weekend of the season will debut, featuring separate qualifying sessions for both the short and long races.
Back-to-back title winner, and 2023 drivers’ standings leader Max Verstappen, has made clear that he is no fan of the latest initiative to bolster the F1 ‘show’.
“If he wins, he’ll immediately change his mind,” Marko, a top Red Bull executive who turns 80 on Thursday, smiled to Osterreich newspaper.
“I see it differently,” the Austrian added. “It’s better for the organiser on both Friday and Saturday, the paying audience is given a better show, and everyone has more action.”
Normally, a world championship leader might be more sceptical of mid-season rule changes as it may give opponents an advantage.
Marko, though, doesn’t sound worried even if he admits that Mercedes appears to now be closing the gap after acknowledging the failure of the ‘no sidepods’ concept.
“They are turning their design upside down while we are limited in aerodynamic development,” he said.
“The others can win one or two races,” Marko added, “but it won’t be enough for the world championship.”
Finally, when asked how he will celebrate his 80th birthday on Thursday, Marko smiled: “On the plane to Baku.
“I don’t want a big fuss about it. A win in Baku would be the best gift.”