Horner: Bulls must make inroads

Tuesday 08-April-2014 07:39

Christian Horner says Red Bull and Renault need to begin making "inroads" into Mercedes' lead when F1 heads to Europe next month.

Three races into this season and it has been all Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton taking two victories and Nico Rosberg one. Added to that, Mercedes also claimed back-to-back 1-2s in Malaysia and Bahrain.

Red Bull have been left to fight for the podium but fell short in Bahrain where Daniel Ricciardo was fourth to Sebastian Vettel's sixth.

As a result, the reigning World Champions are well off the pace in the title races, 76 points behind Mercedes, who are the early favourites to take the titles.

Horner, though, insists all is not lost but that Red Bull and Renault need to start closing that gap soon.

"It is not an insignificant gap we have to close to the Mercs, and our focus is just on closing that," said the Red Bull team boss.

"We started 2012 not in great shape given the change in regulations with the blown diffuser, we were on the backfoot, but we fought our way back into the championship.

"We'll do our very best to do that again this year. The important thing is not to allow too much of a distance to grow in the first third of the year.

"The problem is, and it's no secret, we are significantly down on straight-line performance than Mercedes.

"For the first time we saw their true pace where they obviously went for it, and they're not hanging about.

"The Renault guys know that, they're working on it and anything that we can do to close that gap will only get us closer to them.

"We've just got to keep working at it. We're not giving up. We know where we need to improve and we'll keep pushing.

"The Renault guys are working at it in Paris, the people at [Red Bull's factory in] Milton Keynes are fully fired up.

"If you think where we were five weeks ago at the test here we would have never made a race distance let alone a competitive race, and we were able to race competitively here and benefit from a test this week.

"China, Mercedes are again going to be very difficult to beat there with the kilometre-long straight. But then when we get into Europe we need to start making inroads into them. The important thing is to not allow too much of a distance to grow in the first third of the year."

The Brit, however, feels Red Bull, who bookmakers Paddy Power are banking on rebounding, should be proud of their achievements in Bahrain given that they are down on speed and that both drivers started the race outside the top ten.

"Considering where we are at the disadvantage in straight-line speed to achieve what we've been achieving has been seriously impressive," Horner argued.

"To nearly get a podium again on this type of circuit, we couldn't get more than that out of the car, the strategy, the drivers, the pit stops and the team."

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