Red Bull’s Horner: “We’ve overachieved in many respects”


Red Bull Racing and team principal Christian Horner have had what some would call a “character-building” season, as they’ve been thoroughly knocked off their perch by Mercedes.

But they remain the only team to have defeated the powerful Silver Arrows this year, and now they’ve done it twice after Daniel Ricciardo’s victory on Sunday in a superb Hungarian Grand Prix.

Obviously, circumstances could be much better than they are right now for the defending World Champions.

But Horner appears to be pleased with how Red Bull’s looking as the F1 paddock goes into the summer break.

“Our standard this year is not as strong as in previous years,” Horner told the F1 website after Sunday’s win. “But we are still the only other team to win a race, we are second in the world championship, and we’ve had a whole bunch of podiums with the handicap of an engine that is very underpowered compared to our rivals.

“Actually, I would say that we’ve overachieved in many respects, so as soon as we start to close that horsepower deficit, then we will able to take the fight to Mercedes.”

In that regard, Horner says the team and its power partners at Renault have continued to work step-by-step in erasing some of the gap. He also noted that with Renault’s recent changes in management, Red Bull has started to take on a similar identity to a “proper works team.”

One figures Horner wouldn’t be averse to Red Bull and its “junior” Scuderia Toro Rosso becoming Renault’s primary focus in 2015. He noted that the creation of different engines for Red Bull and Lotus (which has been rumored to flip to Mercedes power) stretched the manufacturer too far.

“It was an issue,” he said on the matter. “If you look at Mercedes and Ferrari, they focus on one team and then their customers still get a very good product, whereas Renault’s philosophy was different to that and I think it cost them a little bit.

“But now under the new management structure, things are different.”

Indeed, the team’s previous frustrations with Renault appear to have simmered down.

“…They have very capable people – we just have to work closely together in the same direction,” Horner said. “That’s what I believe is happening now.”

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.