Christian Horner says that Red Bull is making progress in its pursuit of Mercedes – but says much still depends on what Renault can do.
At a track where the emphasis switched from the power unit to the chassis Daniel Ricciardo finished a strong third in Monaco, although Sebastian Vettel suffered a disappointing turbo failure.
“Daniel was amazing, considering where he was after the first lap,” Horner said when asked by this writer. “We got a little bit lucky with the puncture for Raikkonen. But his pace was very good. He looked after the tyres well and pushed hard at the end of the race. He was certainly than Lewis, but no chance to overtake. It was certainly the closest we’ve been. So we’re getting there. It’s the first time this year we’ve been racing a Mercedes, so it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
Horner remains confident that Red Bull can continue to close on its main rivals.
“We’re clearly the second quickest team at the moment, and we’re nibbling into that gap of Mercedes. It’s nothing short of commitment and hard work and clever design that’s going to close that gap.
“We’re very much in Renault’s hands. We are making progress, they’re making progress, Total on the fuel side have been making progress. But really we are now where we should have been in January. And Mercedes obviously aren’t standing still. But we’re only at race six, there’s still a long way to go in this championship.”
Horner admits that the next race in Canada could be more difficult, due to the extra focus on the power unit.
“Montreal is going to be a challenging race for us, and it will be interesting to see how we fair there. Obviously Renault are working hard behind the scenes. We were much, much closer [in Monaco], it’s the first time we’ve raced Mercedes this year. Dan’s pace, particularly in the last third of the race, he was the quickest car on the track.
“So I think we take a lot of confidence out of that. But you’re going from one extreme to the other. Here’s all about handling characteristics, the next event will be predominantly straightline performance. It’s going to be very interesting to see how we fare against the Mercedes powered teams in Montreal.”
Regarding Vettel’s Monaco disappointment he said: “Obviously this weekend was pretty tough on him. He’s smart enough to recognise that, so of course, like any sportsman he’s going to be frustrated when things go wrong. There will be time to take a breath and reflect. He’ll just keep working away at it, it’s the nature of who he is that he never gives up, he’ll keep his head down and keep working harder and harder.”