Red Bull inching closer to Mercedes, says Horner

F1i 14/08/2016
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Mercedes and Red Bull.

When the season resumes in Belgium at the end of the month, Horner is hoping Red Bull will pick up where it left off following the double podium achieved by Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in Hockenheim.

“Our objective is to close that gap further to Mercedes ahead,” said Horner.

“You’ve always got to look ahead rather than behind. We’ve had great performance at a variety of circuits from Austria to Silverstone to Budapest and Germany.

“They are four very different venues, four different surfaces and that bodes well for the second half of the season. There are some races on the calendar which will hopefully be favourable to us.”

Horner now estimates that the gap with Mercedes has dwindled down to 0.3 seconds thanks to the hard work accomplished both on the chassis and the engine fronts.

While Red Bull has now directed the bulk of its resources towards next season’s car, Horner still believes more can be extracted from the potential of the RB12.

“We still have a few bits that we can tidy up on the car which are on the pipeline, which were kicked off some time ago. There is still progress going on with the engine with drivability.

“There are some positive things in the pipeline which can hopefully help us to try and close that gap further.”

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Haas leaning towards keeping driver line-up intact

F1i 13/08/2016
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Haas.

Neither Romain Grosjean nor Esteban Gutierrez have been confirmed for 2017, although both men are expected to have their contract extended with an announcement expected around, or just after, the weekend of the Italian Grand Prix.

Looking at the current drivers’ market, and the eventual availability of drivers such as Jenson Button, Felipe Massa or Kevin Magnussen, Steiner believes a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

“I don’t think we want to wait this long, because you risk it,” said Steiner.

“If you know where you are, it’s better than having uncertainty. We are very confident we can say it after Monza. We do what we want to do.

“It gives the team certainty and you can focus on next year, on the car, and on performance.”

Haas is already hard at work on its 2017 challenger but will nevertheless introduce an upgrade package, its first this season, for its VF-16 chassis.

“These parts were developed in March/April and just went into production a little bit later,” Steiner said.

“We didn’t want to rush them because we want to get better with production as well for next year.

“As everybody knows, the second year is the most difficult one and it still will be, but we’ll try to do as much as possible not to make mistakes in the second year. ”

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McLaren aiming to continue steady improvement

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McLaren.

McLaren’s Formula One engineering director Matt Morris is cautiously confident that the team has finally turned the corner after its dismal 2015 season, and that the team will be able to make steady, consistent progress in the remainder of the current season.

“I think in terms of our performance, if you look back at the last 18 months, we’ve been gradually improving against pretty much all our competitors,” said Morris.

“Obviously in the last few races we’ve been genuine top ten contenders and therefore the limelight has been on us a little bit more.”

A key factor in McLaren’s improving fortunes is a closer working relationship with their engine manufacturer Honda. “The team, both Woking and Sakura, are working well together and that’s shown in our recent results,” Morris acknowledged.

He added that he was also pleased to see the end of the radio communications ban which Jenson Button fell foul of in Hungary when the McLaren pit wall had to tell him how to fix a brake problem, incurring a drive-thru penalty as a result.

“It was very difficult for us and we just wanted the car to be safe and then it all sort of spiralled into a bit of a mess for us,” said Morris. “I think basically the decision [rescinding team radio bans] was the right decision. I think common sense has prevailed.”

Button rebounded from that disappointment to finish eighth in Germany, his fifth top ten result in 2016; his team mate Fernando Alonso has also finished in the points on three further occasions including fifth place in Monaco to put McLaren into seventh place in the championship standings with nine races remaining.

Morris feels that the momentum can be maintained for the rest of the season. Even though the team is inevitably increasingly focussed on the development of the new 2017 car, it won’t mean they have given up on improving the current MP4-31.

“We have some further plans for upgrades this year, so we hope that those continue our progression and then sort of decide after the break in terms of how much resource we keep on this year’s car and move to next year’s car.”

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