Red Bull had the second-quickest car at the Spanish Grand Prix and is now targeting Mercedes, according to its team principal Christian Horner.
Max Verstappen split the two Ferraris in qualifying to start fourth and then pulled an excellent move around the outside of Sebastian Vettel at Turn 3 on the opening lap to move into third. From there he looked rarely troubled by Ferrari and secured his second podium of the season, and Horner believes Red Bull displayed it is only second to Mercedes at this stage of the season.
“I think it certainly was (second-fastest) this weekend,” Horner said. “We got the absolute maximum out of the car. Max’s first lap was outstanding. We had an aggressive strategy, but we had the pace obviously to beat the Ferraris.
“So considering where we were at the pre-season tests eight or nine weeks ago, to have closed that gap and put that performance on the car is really encouraging. Obviously now we have to try and focus on diminishing the gap further to Mercedes.”
Red Bull didn’t look as competitive during the early practice sessions as it was in qualifying and the race, which Horner put down to the team needing time to work out how to extract more performance during a weekend.
“That’s been quite often on a Friday,” he said. “Obviously we had a lot of data to look at as well on Friday night. The updates we’ve brought to the car this weekend have worked well, it’s now a matter of digesting the information from the race and building on that vein of development.”
Lewis Hamilton comfortably led home team-mate Valtteri Bottas for Mercedes’ fifth consecutive one-two finish of the season, but Horner says it’s too early to write off his team’s chances in the coming races.
“Well, [Mercedes] have a really dominant performance,” he said. “They’re always strong in Barcelona, but certainly their fifth one-two finish is exceedingly dominant. Certainly in Monaco if you look at their performance in the low-speed section of this circuit, you would expect them to be very strong in Monaco. So I think they’ll certainly be very much the favorites there, and we will be trying our best to challenge them as best we can.”