Red Bull should be leading the constructors’ championship but remains an outsider for either title this season, according to team principal Christian Horner.
Max Verstappen’s victory in the Austrian Grand Prix was Red Bull’s third of the year, matching the tally of both Ferrari and Mercedes. With Daniel Ricciardo winning on two occasions, Red Bull is the only team to win with both drivers, but the pair are over 50 points adrift in the drivers’ championship after a number of retirements, and Red Bull is 58 points away from the constructors’ lead.
“I think that we definitely have an outside chance,” Horner said. “Nine races, three victories, the same amount of wins as Ferrari and Mercedes. Our Achilles heel has been not scoring with both cars, either through reliability our other incidents. Formula 1’s full of ifs, buts and maybes, but if you look at the positions that we were in and should have been in then we should be leading the championship today.
“But the scoreboard is slightly different to that. We’ve closed the gap over the last few races, and there’s still a long, long way to go. What are there, 12 races left? So I think you’d have to consider us as an outside contender. And certainly our determination within the team is to keep pushing and try and ensure that we’re getting both cars ahead of our opponents.
“There are some circuits coming up that should play to our strengths, places like Hungary and Singapore. There are circuits that will not be so good for us but I think one of our major assets is that as a race team we are extremely versatile and we’ve been very creative on strategy, pit stops, pit work… As a team, the team’s working extremely well.
“So I think there is a chance in both championships and we certainly haven’t written anything off at this point in the year.”
Red Bull cars have retired on five occasions, compared to three for Mercedes and two for Ferrari, but the team has scored the most points of any over the past five races. In that time, it has been announced that Red Bull will switch to Honda power units from next season but Horner is encouraged by the reaction he has seen from Renault.
“I think the fact that we aren’t a competitor to Renault or their own team, it actually helps their purpose by having an engine winning races. And it gives them a barometer of where they need to improve.
“From the initial disappointment from Renault that there was after informing them of the decision, we’ve actually seen a reverse — they introduced a qualifying mode for this weekend, they’re introducing another fuel upgrade for us in a couple of races time, we then have a C-spec engine coming for around Monza, so we haven’t noticed any withdrawal of performance from Renault.
“If it gives them the opportunity to get their board more enthused about Formula 1, it might actually help them.”