Red Bull principal Christian Horner says the team’s focus is “all about evolution” with the RB15 throughout 2019.
Mercedes may be disappearing out of sight at the front, but Red Bull’s battle right now is with Ferrari, one which they are largely winning.
Max Verstappen proved a thorn in the side of the pre-season favourites again at the Spanish Grand Prix, splitting the Ferraris in qualifying before going on to finish P3 and lift himself into the same position in the Drivers’ Championship – ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
The Austrian team brought a “subtle” upgrade to Barcelona, but are yet to really get the best out of their 2019 challenger, despite steady gains from Honda and in the chassis.
“I think it’s all about evolution,” Horner explained to Crash.net.
“I think Honda are making good progress, reliability compared to previous years has been fantastic and performance is strong, but of course the others don’t stand still either.
“Ferrari introduced another engine, Renault introduced another upgrade, Mercedes no doubt around Montreal will introduce another engine, so of course your opponents don’t stand still but we are very happy with the progress that’s being made.
“I think we are not at our optimum yet in terms of where we would like to be with these new regulations and construction of tyre, but I think Spain was a step forward and hopefully more will follow.”
Part of the new aero regulations for 2019 forced a rethink of front-wing designs, while Pirelli introduced a new structure to their tyres for this season, and Horner thinks both made it more difficult in terms of the RB15’s philosophy.
“I think probably a combination of the two,” he confessed.
“Obviously there’s something like 25 percent less rubber on these tyres and they are stiffer, we were very good on the tyres at the end of last year.
“I think the concept of aerodynamics that we’ve evolved over the last year’s was very sensitive to the front wing, so obviously we’re having to re-balance that and re-focus.
“Considering where we were at the pre-season tests eight or nine weeks ago, to have closed that gap and put that performance on the car is really encouraging and obviously now we have to try and focus on diminishing the gap further to Mercedes.”