Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner says expectations are rising for his team’s second year in partnership with Honda, after an encouragingly strong showing in pre-season testing.
Mercedes set the fastest times of pre-season testing as well as the highest mileage, but Red Bull also enjoyed plenty of strong running with both Max Verstappen and Alex Albon. Horner is encouraged by the signs from testing but also says the development of the Honda relationship is leading to expectations that it can exceed last year’s total of three victories.
“I think we’ve got a very strong team,” Horner said. “Our driver line-up and our team’s strength in depth, our engine partner is a key aspect as well and has been the missing ingredient for the past few years. That relationship with Honda really grew over the course of last year with the three victories we achieved, the pole positions we achieved, and of course heading into the second year with continuity and the power unit more integrated into the chassis.
“Our expectations are growing and rising and our targets are very high this year, so that is the challenge. We know we have some fierce opponents and great competitors. We do have the strength in depth within our team to hopefully put a real challenge together this year.”
While Mercedes hit reliability issues at times and Ferrari didn’t show the same raw pace as 2019, Horner sees the picture at this point as similar to 12 months ago.
“That is always the dangerous thing about pre-season testing, trying to draw too many conclusions. Ferrari look understated at the last test but they are starting to wind it up and I think it would be foolish to underestimate them going to Melbourne.
“Mercedes are the reigning six-time world champions and very much the favorites. Their form has always looked strong (in Barcelona) and you want to have your issues in testing, not when you are racing; so winter testing can sometimes be a little deceptive but I think it will be the same teams fighting at the sharp end of the grid this year.”