Red Bull Racing can put pressure on Mercedes and Ferrari if it is still in championship contention after the summer break, according to team principal Christian Horner.
After 10 races of the 2018 season, Ferrari has secured four victories while Mercedes and Red Bull each have won three races. Despite its competitiveness, Red Bull cars have also failed to finish on six occasions, leaving it 88 points adrift of Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.
“We can only focus on ourselves and how others deal with pressure is up to them,” Horner said. “What we can control is what we are doing. I think historically post summer break we have always been very strong from after the summer break to the end of the championship.
“So if we can get to the summer break still in contention, I’m reasonably confident we can have a good final third to the championship at tracks that will play more to our strengths. And then it starts to get really interesting because pressure builds, whether it be with the drivers, strategists, the pit crew, the setup, engineers — it just builds throughout an entire organization. Then you see the strength and depth and character of a team.”
With Mercedes having dominated in recent seasons, Horner says the recent lack of reliability and strategic errors in Austria highlight how a team can make errors under pressure.
“I think that if you look at Mercedes’ history, the team is basically what Ross [Brawn] put into place several years ago. Of course it’s been added to and they’ve had a great advantage over the last few years, and their only main competition has been internal between their own drivers.
“So they have never been in a position — or the management of the team has never been in a position — where they have had to go head to head through an entire season. And, of course, the closer you get towards the end of the year the more the pressure builds.
“It’s a new experience for them. There are obviously very capable people there, but our role if we get close enough will be to put pressure on, because we’ve seen that when you do put pressure on Mercedes mistakes do happen.”
Horner is confident Red Bull’s lack of championship success since 2013 will not have an impact on his own team’s ability to deal with pressure, as it has less to lose.
“We are largely unchanged from the championships that we did five years ago. We have retained the same group of people through the difficult years as well as the good years. We are very much an outsider.
“When you are an outsider you can also take more risk because we are under no challenge from behind, we can only gain. Again you’ve got a different philosophy and a different approach to risk than you would have if you’ve got everything to lose.”