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

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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.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.