Horner: Red Bull F1 Should Be Leading the Constructors' Championship
The Milton Keynes-based team has as many wins as Ferrari and Mercedes after Verstappen's Austrian GP victory.
Nine races into the 2018 Formula 1 campaign, the series' top manufacturers all have three wins respectively. During Sunday's disastrous Austrian Grand Prix for Mercedes, Red Bull capitalized and took the win while Ferrari leaped ahead in the Constructors' Championship standings. Red Bull currently sits as the outlier, 58 points off the lead to Mercedes' 10, but as Team Principal Christian Horner believes, the Milton Keynes-based outfit should be at the front with the form its shown so far this season.
Horner explained that his crew, consisting of star free agent Daniel Ricciardo and young gun Max Verstappen, has the pace to keep up with the likes of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes. However, the team's struggles to place both cars in the points has hindered it from advancing in the Constructors' Title hunt.
“I think that we definitely have an outside chance,” Horner told the media after Verstappen's fourth career win this past weekend. “Nine races, three victories, the same amount of wins as Ferrari and Mercedes. Our Achilles heel has been not scoring with both cars, either through reliability or other incidents. Formula 1’s full of ifs, buts, and maybes, but if you look at the positions that we were in and should have been in then we should be leading the championship today."
"But the scoreboard is slightly different to that" Horner continued. "We’ve closed the gap over the last few races, and there’s still a long, long way to go. What are there, 12 races left? So I think you’d have to consider us as an outside contender. And certainly, our determination within the team is to keep pushing and try and ensure that we’re getting both cars ahead of our opponents."
Some early-season concerns set back the Red Bull squad initially. One part of the conundrum has lied with its Renault engine supply and reliability while the other boiled down to Verstappen and Ricciardo challenging each other on-track, sometimes causing internal woes. Both have been addressed with the team turning to Honda power units for 2019 and 2020 as well as a supposed return to form by the drivers.
“There are some circuits coming up that should play to our strengths, places like Hungary and Singapore. There are circuits that will not be so good for us but I think one of our major assets is that as a race team we are extremely versatile and we’ve been very creative on strategy, pit stops, pit work…As a team, the team’s working extremely well," Horner added.
“So I think there is a chance in both championships and we certainly haven’t written anything off at this point in the year.”
In total, Red Bull has suffered five DNFs in 2018. That's two more than Mercedes and three more than Ferrari; however, it has scored more points in the last five races than any other manufacturer. Horner commented on this by adding that support from Renault has been steady since the team's decision to switch to Honda next year.
“I think the fact that we aren’t a competitor to Renault or their own team, it actually helps their purpose by having an engine winning races. And it gives them a barometer of where they need to improve."
“From the initial disappointment from Renault that there was after informing them of the decision, we’ve actually seen a reverse—they introduced a qualifying mode for this weekend, they’re introducing another fuel upgrade for us in a couple of races time, we then have a C-spec engine coming for around Monza, so we haven’t noticed any withdrawal of performance from Renault.
“If it gives them the opportunity to get their board more enthused about Formula 1, it might actually help them.”
Formula 1 heads to Silverstone this weekend for the conclusion of its first-ever triple-header, wrapping things up with the British Grand Prix prior to its break ahead of the race at Hockenheim in Germany.