Dietrich Mateschitz believes it could be mid-season before his Red Bull Racing outfit are fighting for race wins in 2017.
The boss of Red Bull feels engine suppliers Renault are making good progress ahead of the new season, and he is hoping that, combined with the expected strong chassis, both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will be able to take the fight to the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team this season.
Red Bull won twice in 2016 – Verstappen won the Spanish Grand Prix and Ricciardo in Malaysia, but Mercedes took the other nineteen victories and both World Championships, and Mateschitz is hoping that 2017 offers a different story for his drivers as he aims to reclaim their place at the head of the standings.
“Renault brought new, competent and ambitious technicians to the F1 engine department,” said Mateschitz on Motorsport.com. “Together with the help of Mario Illien they really made a lot of progress, mainly reliability-wise.
“I am sure that this season we will be strong enough to get closer to Mercedes and challenge the champions. Our chassis will certainly be top again. I expect that by mid-season we will be competitive enough to win races and fight for the top.”