Red Bull braced for F1 season of two halves in 2016

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LONDON – Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner anticipates a season of two halves in 2016 as the ex-world champions wait on progress from power unit supplier Renault.

2015 saw Red Bull ail to its worst F1 season in seven years as problems with the Renault power unit limited drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat to just three podium finishes in total.

Red Bull will race with Renault power units once again in 2016, albeit rebadged as TAG Heuer, and Horner expects progress to be more noticeable as the season wears on.

“We’re going into the year hopeful that we can make progress from where we were in Abu Dhabi,” Horner told reporters at Red Bull’s livery launch in London on Wednesday.

“I think it will be a year of two halves. I think the second half will be more competitive for us than the first half.

“Teams like Toro Rosso are going to make a big performance jump just by the change of power unit that they’ve adopted for this year. But we’re expecting steps to be made throughout the year.”

Relations between Red Bull and Renault soured dramatically in 2015 due to the issues with the power unit, but Horner believes the French manufacturer is addressing the right areas for the new season.

“I get the feeling that they have a much better idea of where their performance deficiency has been and what they need to do to address that,” Horner said.

“There seems to be a lot more confidence and focus, and I think with the bit of restructuring that they’ve done there, they’ve got some quality consultants in there now with plenty of experience.

“They’ve got Bob Bell back involved who obviously brings a lot of experience from Mercedes-Benz and obviously from a previous successful stint at Renault. So I think they’re addressing the right areas now.”

However, with a contract only lasting until the end of 2016, Horner confirmed that Red Bull would be exploring all possible avenues for future power unit supply.

“We have a contract to the end of 2016 and then everything’s open for ’17 and beyond,” Horner said.

“I’m sure we’ll monitor the situation with interest of how the engine is developing and what the other options are.”