Ferrari has overtaken Mercedes with the best power unit in Formula 1, according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
Mercedes dominated the V6 turbo era until last season, when Ferrari was able to challenge on a more consistent basis but still fell comfortably short in both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship. This season, however, Sebastian Vettel has four wins to his name for Ferrari compared to three each for Mercedes and Red Bull, and Ferrari leads the constructors’ championship by 20 points.
Having seen Ferrari customers also perform strongly at Silverstone last weekend, when asked if Ferrari has the best power unit now, Horner replied: “I think it’s setting the benchmark now; you can see that with Haas and Sauber as well having made good gains.
“As always our race pace on Sunday is better. You could see when they run their qualifying modes. We ran our qualifying mode at the restart versus Kimi [Raikkonen] and you can see the difference.
“I think it’s more engine-sensitive [at Silverstone]. You could see how hard Max [Verstappen] was having to work to keep Kimi behind. Then their overall speed at the restart was insane. Max had to go around the outside again in Turn 7 to take the position back which was a great move by him.
“If you look at the rear wings on the cars we’re running Spa levels of downforce. The others were running… I think in qualifying every single corner we were quicker than Sebastian but we just lose time down the straights.”
Having said Renault’s lack of outright power left Red Bull exposed in both defense and attack at Silverstone, Horner felt vindication in his team’s decision to switch to Honda power units in 2019 — because the French manufacturer has not made improvements in performance in the same way that Ferrari has been able to achieve.
“We sat down [with Daniel Ricciardo] and explained the rationale behind the changes that we made, and the reality is that it is time for change. We’ve been doing the same thing year after year, we’ve seen real progress with Honda, and it just feels the right time in our evolution to be going a different route.”