Red Bull 'sure' of F1 fightback and a 'worthy enemy' for Mercedes
"We've got the base of a very good car," Horner tells Sky F1 as Red Bull look to fix RB16 'issues' before British GP on August 2
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 22/07/20 8:56am
Red Bull admit they have some "issues" to address with their car before the next Formula 1 race at Silverstone, but believe they can still take the 2020 title fight to Mercedes - who insist they are a "worthy enemy".
After pushing Mercedes close in Austria, Red Bull were expected to be challenging for pole position and victory at last weekend's Hungarian GP - where they usually excel - but instead only managed 7th and 13th on the grid before Max Verstappen rescued a second-place finish in the race.
Mercedes, meanwhile, took a third straight victory to start the season and have built a 66-point lead over Red Bull, with Lewis Hamilton 30 points clear of Verstappen in the drivers' standings.
Red Bull therefore have plenty of work to do before the next triple header of races, starting with the British GP on August 2, with their Hungary upgrades not translating to performance.
"I think the car is in better shape in the race," team boss Christian Horner told Sky F1. "We've got some issues. We brought some updates to the car that aren't behaving themselves and we've got a lot of data now, we need to understand that.
(1/2 )Thought it's time to look at the Quali form guide after the first triple header of F1 2020. Interesting that Racing Point & Williams the only gainers, Ferrari powered teams gone backwards the most. RBR have openly admitted they need to do some work to unlock 1 lap pace. pic.twitter.com/n5AwTrwNOA— Karun Chandhok (@karunchandhok) July 21, 2020
(2/2) Hungary could be the only high drag, high downforce track this year without Monaco & Singapore so interesting to compare this year vs last year at this track. RP a big gain, Williams making a small gain while RBR & Ferrari powered teams taken a step backwards. pic.twitter.com/jYfGPBBkfD— Karun Chandhok (@karunchandhok) July 21, 2020
"Now we've got two weeks to try and covert that into performance in time for Silverstone.
"There's parts of the track where we're very strong, and there's other parts where compared to the Mercedes we're giving away too much time. In the race that compresses, but we need to do a better job."
Both Verstappen and Alex Albon were struggling to control a twitchy RB16 but were well over a second slower than the Mercedes in qualifying, and slower than Verstappen's pole time from a year before.
When asked if they could challenge Mercedes - whose drivers say their W11 is one of their best-ever - over a compressed season, Horner was adamant that the team have "the base of a very good car".
"We had a strong pre-season, the car behaved itself very, very well through Barcelona," he said. "You guys saw it knocking in the lap times.
"We had some issues in Austria last weekend but then they were very much accentuated here. This traditionally is a track that is very strong for us.
"We've got a lot of data, we've got a lot of information, and it's now understanding that, using it and converting it into some updates and modifications to the car.
"I don't think it will take much. We've got the base of a very good car here, we just need to get the guys into it quickly and I'm sure we'll turn it around."
Verstappen, however, admitted it would be "very hard" to beat Mercedes.
"I think it will be very hard, of course, to beat them but I think it's important for us now to understand where it went wrong and then, of course, correct it and try to learn from it and try to get it back on track," he said.
"And as soon, of course, as you head into the right direction, then of course very quickly you can put a good amount of parts on the car - but first we need to really understand where the main critical problem is in the car."
Mercedes wary of 'worthy competitor and enemy'
Mercedes have made the perfect start to a record seventh double championship F1 quest, with their work over the winter praised by Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
The Silver Arrows boss Toto Wolff described the car and engine as a "bit of a beast" and stated: "We've said in the past we had more difficult cars, the divas, that won us championships and this car seems to be in a happy place.
"But we have to maintain it there, and keep adding performance in order to secure the championship."
And it's clear Wolff is still expecting Red Bull to be their main challengers.
"I don't think it's a bad race car," he said of the Red Bull. "Certainly not always in the sweet spot but the car seemed alright [on Sunday].
"You can see when they are there they are a worthy competitor and enemy.
"When you look at the points, we had three victories out of three races but there is a 30-point gap. That's nothing. That's one DNF and he wins one and the gap is gone. We just need to keep pushing."