Red Bull lacking Plan B as Mercedes warned against victim complex – F1 news round-up

Thomas Maher
Red Bull's Helmut Marko and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

Helmut Marko has warned there is no Red Bull 'Plan B' should RBPT fail to deliver, while Mercedes have been urged to avoid falling into a 'victim complex'.

It’s the last day of 2023 and, as we say goodbye to a one-sided year of F1, Sunday’s headlines were dominated by more worrying news for Red Bull.

Max Verstappen’s team stitched together one of the most dominant campaigns ever seen this year, but it’s all eyes to the future as 2024 (and beyond) hoves into view.

Red Bull’s own engine efforts simply have to work in 2026, as there’s no contingency place in place, as Helmut Marko explained, while Mercedes are out to prove their doubters wrong. Catch up with all the year-end F1 news in our round-up!

No ‘Plan B’ for Red Bull once Honda split goes ahead

With Honda and Red Bull set to go their separate ways for 2026 when the Japanese manufacturer formally returns to F1 with Aston Martin and Red Bull roll out their own engines, there is no contingency plan to keep a Honda supply on standby if RBPT should fail to be competitive.

“No, it has to work,” Marko said when asked if Honda represents a ‘Plan B’.

“From 2026, we will be racing with our own engine. Until then, we want the best possible performance potential from Honda, which has worked well so far.”

Read more: Helmut Marko responds to Honda ‘Plan B’ suggestion in Red Bull Powertrains update

James Allison warns against ‘victim complex’ at Mercedes

With Mercedes aiming to bounce back in 2024 after two years away from title contention, technical director James Allison says his team is determined to prove the doubters wrong as soon as possible.

“We’ll just suck that [negativity] up and go: ‘Okay, right, we’re going to work on this and we’re going to come back and we’re going to show them,’” he said.

“That is definitely a galvanising thing, as long as it doesn’t spill over into a negative, victim complex and it’s more just the cheerful application of the skill in this place to come out and surprise people.”

Read more: Mercedes warned of ‘victim complex’ as F1 2024 mission revealed in rallying cry


Max Verstappen shares insight into competitive mentality

With Verstappen’s run to title glory in 2023 going largely uncontested by the other 19 drivers on the grid, the Dutch driver has said he doesn’t need the pressure applied from another competitor to bring out the best in himself.

“I don’t think it works like that for me,” said Verstappen on the idea of wanting to be challenged.

“I mean, every single weekend that I’m in, I am challenging myself.

“I want to be perfect. I know perfection, like being absolutely perfect, doesn’t exist, but I try to be as close as I can every single weekend.

“And even when I won the title, I could have come here and just cruised around, but that’s not how I am, that’s not how the people around me are.”

Read more: Max Verstappen’s elite mentality revealed: ‘It doesn’t work like that for me’

Helmut Marko wants to see Liam Lawson in more races

Liam Lawson’s prospects for 2025 and securing a race seat appear reasonably strong, with Christian Horner making it clear the intention is to find a way to get him on the grid.

But Helmut Marko is eager to see the Kiwi climb behind the wheel again in 2024 before committing entirely to giving him a seat.

When pointed out by Austria’s OE24 that he had said Lawson would have an F1 seat for 2025, Marko replied: “Yes, and before that he should at least drive a few more races so that we can see where his potential really lies.”

Read more: Helmut Marko’s intriguing Liam Lawson requirement as F1 grid target set

DC’s discomfort with F1 direction

David Coulthard has revealed how F1’s slow evolvement into an endurance-like series in recent years left him cold as an external observer.

“I got uncomfortable when it felt like they were pacing themselves,” he said.

“Saving fuel, saving tyres, and getting ready to then deploy their talents strategically to win the race.

“The goal, of course, is always the same and you always count the winner at the chequered flag, but that’s what I didn’t particularly enjoy.”

Read Next: David Coulthard reveals key F1 aspect that made him ‘uncomfortable’