Red Bull Racing‘s team principal Christian Horner is hoping that the lessons learned from mistakes made in 2020 will help the Milton Keynes-based team to challenge the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team on a more regular basis and over a sustained period of time.
Last season was the teams least successful in terms of wins since 2016, taking only two in the year, both coming from Max Verstappen at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, this lack of success was mainly down to the dominance of Mercedes who won thirteen of the seventeen races last season.
Over the course of the season, Red Bull did start to catch Mercedes up in performance terms, dominating the final Grand Prix weekend of the season at Abu Dhabi, however this may have been down to Mercedes choosing to focus their development on their 2021 car reasonably early on in the season at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Horner does concede that Mercedes are yet again the strong favourites coming into the 2021 season, he believes Red Bull’s decision to continue development on the car will stand the team in good stead before they embark on the record breaking 2021 season.
Horner speaking to Motorsport.com talked about the dominance of Mercedes since the hybrid power era in 2014 and even though last years Mercedes was arguably their fastest yet, having the experience of 2020 under their belts Horner believes will help them ‘catch up’ to the Brackley based team.
“We’ve seen one team be totally dominant for the last seven years and with continuity going into this year of largely car and drivers [being the same], on the Mercedes side, you would expect them to be in a very strong position again,” said Horner.
“But I hope by using the lessons that we’ve learned from 2020, we can put a more sustained challenge to Mercedes, who will undoubtedly be incredibly strong and very much the favourites this year – particularly off the back of a car, which was arguably their best car of the hybrid era.”
Horner also believes that Max Verstappen’s wins at the 70th anniversary Grand Prix and especially the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will motivate Mercedes to work even harder and reduce the risk of any complacency creaping into Mercedes factory at Brackley. Perhaps surprisingly Horner believes that his Red Bull team have been the most consistent over the past seven years acknowledging their ability to win in six of those seven years.
“Mercedes are a very rounded team, and they’ve been solid for a long time now – and all credit to them for the records that they’ve broken with seven successive championships,” he said. “But I think we have been the most consistent challenger over the past seven years.
“We’ve managed to win races in six of those seven years and it’s important for us to keep trying to be better in every area. Mercedes is quite a machine, but we’ve demonstrated that you can beat them – by working hard, by applying yourself to the task in hand.
“I think that they will be tremendously motivated because of that last race in Abu Dhabi and I expect that Toto [Wolff] has used that, and James Allison [too], to come up with an even more competitive car for this year. So, we don’t in any way underestimate the might of Mercedes. But we’ve always been a been a challenger.”