Red Bull “positive” RB13 can challenge Mercedes in F1 2017
Red Bull is confident that its new car provides the platform it needs to take the fight to Mercedes in Formula 1 this season, despite its low-key start to testing.
While Mercedes and Ferrari topped the timesheets during last week’s first pre-season test at Barcelona, Red Bull said there was no cause for alarm about its progress.
And, with it planning an aggressive development push over the course of the campaign, Red Bull boss Christian Horner thinks it has what is needed to head into the 2017 season with some confidence.
“As a team we’ve never, ever won the winter world championship,” Horner told Motorsport.com. “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.”
When asked if there were any early indications of its progress against the opposition, he said: “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’re 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.”
Horner said that Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen had been happy with the initial feedback from the new car, and there had been little interest in chasing headline lap times.
“Mercedes look competitive, Ferrari look competitive. For us, we’ve had a sensible first week,” said Horner. “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.”
Despite some early engine niggles on day one related to sensors, Red Bull’s engine partner Renault had a solid week too as it got down to work with its all-new power unit.
“I think they’ve had a busy winter,” said Horner. “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.”
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