Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner, claims that the Milton Keynes based squad have produced a car that will allow them to take the battle to the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team and challenge for the title this season.
Despite encountering a few technical issues during the first test session at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona last week, which halted Red Bulls progress somewhat and saw them complete just 294 laps compared to the 558 of the world champions, Horner believes there is no need to worry as he explained to motorsport.com recently.
“As a team we’ve never, ever won the winter world championship. We prefer to have the niggly issues here, and get them out the way going into the season, than turning up in Melbourne and having a bunch of issues.
“We’re going about our own programme, we’re learning, the car is behaving as expected, and gives us a good development path. The drivers seem happy and content with the car, so it’s positive.”
The Milton Keynes based squad lost quite a bit of valuable track time last week, mainly due to an exhaust issue that twice plagued them during the four days, whilst rivals Mercedes and even Scuderia Ferrari, ran relatively smoothly.
The 43-year-old is not concerned however, stating that the RB13 is a strong machine, which will see rapid development across the course of the season.
“Look, Mercedes are absolutely the favourites – they’ve been the dominant team the past three years.
“During the last three years we’ve won five races, Ferrari have won three, Mercedes have won nearly 60 races. So of course, they are going to be the favourites.
“But the RB13 looks like it’s got the basis of a good car, and of course with immature regulations development is going to come thick and fast – event to event. It’s going to be a development race really, from this point now all the way to Abu Dhabi.”
Drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen have both conveyed positive feedback on the performance of the RB13 following last week’s test, which has left the Australian feeling that they will be pretty competitive come the start of the season. So far, the team are happy with the way things are going and will look to improve further at this week’s final test session before F1 is go in 2017.
“Mercedes look competitive, Ferrari look competitive. For us, we’ve had a sensible first week.
“We had a few little issues, nothing major, just annoying time-wasters – whether it be an exhaust or sensor issues earlier in the week. Generally, we’ve got some really good feedback from the car.
“We’re very much focused on our own programme. The drivers are very much enjoying the new generation of car – the challenge that it’s posing. Early days, but we’re content with progress so far.”
Horner was also pleased with the clear progress made by Renault on the engine front over the winter, and has been impressed with the improvements already being felt by his drivers.
“I think they’ve had a busy winter, they’ve definitely advanced the product. It’s still early days, but I think the basis of what they now have has got plenty of development scope, and potential.
“Probably the best guy to go and talk to about it is Nico Hulkenberg, who has jumped from a Mercedes-powered car to a Renault one.
“Certainly the work they’ve put in over the winter has been impressive.”