Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says a philosophy change in terms of its new car has made the team better prepared for the new Formula 1 season than it has been in the last five years.
Four consecutive constructors’ championships from 2010-13 preceded a period of Mercedes dominance in the V6 turbo era, with Red Bull unable to mount a year-long challenge at any stage despite taking a number of race wins. Following its split from Renault at the end of 2018, Red Bull impressed with Honda last season and Horner says the team has made a concerted effort to have its new car ready earlier than in the past.
“There have been factors (causing a slow start) in recent years — we always had an engine transition and a front wing change,” Horner said. “We’ve changed our philosophy going into this year, being ready earlier.
He added that the stability of the regulations from last year to this one has also helped that process.
“The only regulation change this year is we’ve gone from eight days of testing to six. Other than that everything else remains the same,” Horner noted. “RB16 is very much an upgrade and evolution of RB15. It is focused on addressing some of its weak spots, and building on its strengths.”
Horner says the new approach, coupled with a strong finish to 2019, has left Red Bull raring to go ahead of the new season as it truly believes it can be in a championship fight from the opening race.
“The team is really eager to go toe to toe with particularly Mercedes, and take that challenge to them, because it’s on those days that teamwork really counts — whether it’s world record pit stops, whether it’s getting the strategy right, reliability is going to be crucial…
“Of course the big factor for us to enable us to mount a challenge has been the power unit as well. Honda did such a great job in each introduction of an engine last year, bringing more performance, more power, and it feels where we’re getting very, very close now to Mercedes. And that then puts the emphasis on the team to come up with the right chassis. We know we’ve got the drivers to get the job done.
“So, going into this year we feel better prepared earlier than we have, certainly in the last five years.”