Christian Horner says Red Bull will turn its engines up as it chases “a big finish” to the season in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth and sixth respectively in Brazil, with Verstappen fading at the end of each stint having been competitive against Ferrari and Mercedes. Horner revealed after the race that Red Bull had played it safe with its power units to ensure it didn’t have to take any penalties in Abu Dhabi, but the team principal says it will be going all out for a win at the Yas Marina Circuit.
“We’ve had a good run since the flyaways started,” Horner said. “We’ve got one more shot left in Abu Dhabi. We’ll have everything turned up and be going for a big finish.
“If it was a five-race championship, then we’d be good! It shows that we’ve put a strong run together. But Mercedes’ reliability this year has been unbelievable. Obviously they’ve had the pace as well. That’s really what we need to address next year, have the reliability which is mainly engine reliability and make sure we take the lessons out of this car into next year.”
While Horner points to the reliability issues Renault has faced this season, the Red Bull boss is also wary that the French manufacturer still faces a fairly significant power deficit to the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari.
“Difficult to say exactly, but it’s got to be in the region of 25 to 30 horsepower down. We’re hearing that Renault are making gains. If they can do that over the winter and most importantly address reliability, I’m confident we can give the drivers the car next year to put a really good campaign together.”
With Verstappen having scored 90 points in the past five races – eight more than the next best tally for Lewis Hamilton – the 20-year-old admits he wishes there were more races to come based on his current form.
“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end,” Verstappen said. “I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going. The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back in to training before it all starts again.”