Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says his drivers were left “hugely exposed” by the lack of performance from the Renault power unit in the British Grand Prix.
After having won the last race in Austria, Red Bull was largely uncompetitive at Silverstone, where it qualified a distant fifth and sixth and was then powerless to hold off Mercedes and Ferrari in the race. With Daniel Ricciardo unable to pass the struggling Valtteri Bottas late on, Horner says Renault and Honda showed similar performance, but that he has faith in Red Bull’s future power unit partner to make bigger improvements.
“You can see the situation between the engines is very similar at the moment, and it is all about the potential development,” Horner replied. “This weekend has been a very tough weekend for Renault. It just very clearly defines where the level is at.
“You can’t hide behind the statistics we saw this weekend. There is a gap to fill, and hopefully in Honda we have a lot of belief what they have coming in the pipeline.
When it was put to Horner that it appears Renault has plateaued, he replied: “That is really a question for Renault. We were just hugely exposed in both defense and attack. You could see at the restart with Kimi [Raikkonen], it was a bit like Mexico 2015 that the amount of additional power, and then at the second restart he had a moment at Stowe, and was still all over Max [Verstappen] in Turns 2, 3.
“Unfortunately for Daniel, he just couldn’t attack Valtteri whilst having a superior tire and grip and performance, he just couldn’t … even with the DRS open, we were still dropping back.
“You look at the percentage that we’re off, it relates to about a 7 percent delta in power around this circuit, and on our vision that is about what we saw.”
Horner says Silverstone has become one of the more power-sensitive circuits on the calendar given the downforce levels on the 2018 cars, exacerbating the deficit to Mercedes and Ferrari.
“I think the problem with Silverstone now is that it’s such a wide-open throttle circuit,” he said. “You’re talking 82 percent in qualifying [at] full throttle, so corners like Copse, Becketts, Stowe, they’re not quite the challenge that they were in these cars because everybody’s flat through Copse now. So it’s just top speed.
“So it’s made it much more power-centric, because where you really need the power is where you put the steering lock onto the car and you start scrubbing [off speed] from the car – that’s when power really kicks in.”