Christian Horner hopes to get up on the podium more in 2017, although we're not sure if he's looking forward to more "Shoeys." (Photo: LAT Photographic)
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Christian Horner believes that Renault has made a big step over the winter with its 2017 spec power unit, and the Red Bull boss anticipates that his team will be able to challenge Mercedes if the promised figures are matched in reality.
Power units are expected to be even more significant performance differentiator under the new aero regulations, with the cars carrying more drag.
“It’s a brand new engine for this year, a change of philosophy,” Horner said of Renault. “They’ve had a big winter. We’re hoping for a step in performance, and if that’s delivered then hopefully we can really be a challenger team this year, and give Mercedes and Ferrari a hard time.
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“Mercedes for sure, they’re the triple World Champions, they’re the team to beat. They set the bar pretty high. That’s what we’re aspiring to. Hopefully we can be a real challenger team. I think the driver lineup we have is fantastic, we’ve had great stability in the team, and we’re excited about the year ahead.”
Horner says that Red Bull has made good progress over the winter as it dealt with the demands of the new regulations.
“Any offseason always has its moments and pressures and demands. We’re like a swan on the surface, paddling furiously underneath, but that’s the same as any pre-season. But generally we’re pretty much on target.
“We went into the winter on a real high. Momentum definitely built during the course of last year. We developed the car well, we raced well, strategically we were strong. It’s also a clean sheet of paper, and that for any designer/engineer is a really exciting challenge. A few years ago, 2009, there was a double diffuser. Is there a gizmo like that that we’ve missed that somebody else has found? Hopefully not, and hopefully we’ll be competitive.
“I think RB13 is one of the prettiest cars that we’ve designed and made, because the geometry of the car under these new regulations, the proportions look right, it looks mean, it looks fast, it’s that old adage, if it looks right, it tends to go alright. And this car for sure looks right.”
Regarding the upcoming testing in Barcelona he said: “It’s always an anxious moment before the car runs for the first time, for it to drive out of the garage and down the pit lane. The first thing that you want to see is that it comes back at the end of the lap! It’s an exciting moment to see the car break cover.
“And of course the testing, people get sucked into who’s doing what time, which fuel loads, who’s doing what race runs, etc. It’s all irrelevant, in reality. You’ve got to focus on your own program, put your blinkers on, get through your program of work, the developments that you want to look at.
“Because it’s all going to change by the time you get to Melbourne anyway. It’s interesting to see the buzz and tension that surrounds those tests, but we’ve become pretty good here over the last few winters at just focusing on ourselves and our own program.”