Horner: ‘Renault got it wrong’
Red Bull team principal talks engine problems and Ricciardo versus Vettel
We're entirely convinced that Red Bull Racing's power deficit to the Mercedes engines has been bridged by Daniel Ricciardo's immense smile.
Though the fallout from the on-track clash between Hamilton and Rosberg has dominated the headlines from last weekend's F1 race at Spa, attention must be drawn to the young Red Bull driver's superb charge from fifth on the grid to take his third victory of the season.
And though it was a victory, it was one that transpired because of a coming-together from the Mercs. Lewis' tyre getting sliced meant he dropped out of the running entirely, while Nico limped back with a broken - then mended - front wing to take second.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is acutely aware of the Renault engine's relative lack of pace. "I think we've got a great chassis," he tells TG at Spa, "in the corners we're very quick, and if we had another 65 or 70 horsepower, we'd be giving Mercedes a hard time."
Matters get compounded when you consider Sebastian Vettel suffering numerous unreliability problems that have marred his championship defence. So far, he's used up his quota of five engines per season (he's on his fifth now), and will almost certainly have to take a penalty to secure another one. Speculation then, has arisen that Red Bull will eventually ditch Renault.
Not so, says Horner. "We're locked in for the foreseeable future with Renault. Ultimately, longer term, it represents our best chance for success, working closely with a manufacturer the size and calibre of Renault. We won four double world championships with them.
"Unfortunately with this year's regulation change, they got it wrong. But they're still very capable people, and we just have to work hard to get it right."
Luckily for him, Daniel's on a high. "I don't think any of us could have imagined he was going to be as quick as he has been," Horner says. "With the team he's extremely laid back. He's just having a ball, being paid to do a fantastic job. He's the happiest guy on the planet."
Surely this success - and Vettel's misfortune - must make the relationship a bit... prickly? "They get on pretty well together," he says. "They race each other cleanly on track, that's the best possible thing for us. Two drivers that have respect for each other but work closely together and push each other hard."
Ahem, perhaps a turn of the screw for Mercedes, then. "So I think it's been a difficult season for reasons we all know about, but despite that we've still managed to win three races so far, we're second in the world championship, we've had a bunch of podiums and we're the closest rival to Mercedes."
Though Adrian Newey will eventually spend less of his time with the Formula One side of things - he'll work on Red Bull ‘technology projects' - Horner isn't going anywhere anytime soon. "There's a lot more I want to achieve with RB in the coming years," he says. "I'm committed to Red Bull for the foreseeable future."
And what of those who reckon he should eventually take over Bernie Ecclestone's role, running F1 entirely? "It's very flattering when people mention that, but hopefully now Bernie won't be locked up so he'll be around for quite a few years.
"Obviously I'd look at it, if and when the opportunity ever arose."