Christian Horner has announced that the biggest area of improvement for Red Bull this year has been in the engine department. Renault have delivered and met the expectations of the team by narrowing the gap to Mercedes.
Red Bull’s relationship with Renault was more than rocky last year. Public criticism, unprofessional spats and dubious Tag Heur re-branding was a clear kick in the engine manufacturer’s balls. This season, the rhetoric is the polar opposite as Red Bull have emerged as the biggest threat to the Mercedes dominance of this mini-era. Horner said,
“The most significant area is on the engine, and credit where’s credit’s due.
The guys [at Renault], with the restructuring they put into place at the back end of last year, the philosophy changes made, the developments brought in, the engine has clearly made a step forward.
We’ve probably halved the gap to Mercedes, and there seems to be a real direction, and good leadership technically at Viry.
We’ve made progress on the chassis, and of course these things have to work in combination, but the biggest element I would say is the step forward in the engine.”
– Christian Horner
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) July 31, 2016
The progress at any team is relative to the margins in which others develop or fail to develop. Ferrari’s recent struggles have definitely helped to elevate Red Bull in the same way that the Mercedes benchmark continues to prevent cause for serious celebration. Horner believes that for 2017, Red Bull can match the Mercedes pace of this season… He said,
“The engine we had this year was delivered absolutely on target to what was projected pre-season.
So if they can do the same again, then hopefully we should really reduce that gap significantly to at least this year’s Mercedes – and who knows what they have in the pipeline for next year – but it should be another good step.”
– Christian Horner
Formula One racing doesn’t stop at the checkered flag. It’s all about who can push for the most efficient developments off-track. Renault have announced that they are introducing a massive engine upgrade for the start of next season and there is seemingly quiet confidence at Red Bull. The Renault works team will surely benefit the most from the 2017 upgrades. The irony could be that the yellow cars that lack sharpness this year get the most out of the Renault engine next season and maintain the shaky relationship between Red Bull and the French Manufacturer. ‘You guys didn’t want our name on your engine? Fine, we’ll show you some real sh*tty customer service.’