Marko sets Red Bull sights on beating Mercedes in 2017

© XPB 

Red Bull motorsport consultant Dr Helmut Marko has made it plain that beating Mercedes in next year's world championship has to be the team's main objective over the coming months.

"We are on schedule," Marko told the official Formula One website when asked how development was going on the 2017-specification car.

"The numbers that the engineers are finding look very good - of course the track will give the final answer," he continued. "But as our clear objective is to beat Mercedes, next year the numbers better be good!"

With Toro Rosso moving back to the Renault stable after a year running Ferrari engines, Red Bull is once again able to share testing and development work with its junior team.

"We try to have as much [synergy] as possible - first of all for cost reasons and then for performance reasons," said Marko.

"Whatever the regulations permit we will do - probably not to the full extent next year as Toro Rosso cannot work as quickly as Red Bull Racing, but I expect that this will change over a period of two years."

But the focus on next year's car development doesn't mean that Red Bull will accept anything less than second place in this year's constructors championship, for which it has a battle on its hands with Ferrari.

"I am pretty confident. It will be an interesting battle between us and Ferrari. Of course our intention is to win that battle," said Marko.

Ferrari's campaign is being spearheaded by Red Bull's former golden boy Sebastian Vettel who is yet to claim a race win in 2016, but Marko was sympathetic to the four-time world champion frustrations at Maranello since he moved teams at the end of 2014.

"Seb was unlucky this year," said Marko. "He could have won races is what I guess. He will make his way.

"What I can say is that he is a fantastic driver and for sure he will do anything to make Ferrari win again."

Silbermann says ... A letter to Chase Carey

Estimated F1 driver salaries for 2016


COMMENT: Why Bernie staying could mean more chance of change in F1

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter