Red Bull believe the key to closing their performance gap to Mercedes is resolving some “anomalies” causing their cars to “misbehave aerodynamically” in certain conditions.
Off the pace in free practice and qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Red Bull enjoyed a much stronger race as Max Verstappen overcame his crash on the way to the grid to finish second behind Lewis Hamilton while Alex Albon ended up in P5.
But Red Bull already trail by 66 points in the Constructors’ World Championship heading to rounds four and five of the season at Silverstone, a circuit that should suit Mercedes and their blistering raw pace.
Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull, said in quotes reported by Autosport: “We have some anomalies with a car that isn’t behaving as we expected it to.
“A great deal of work is going into understanding that and addressing that for the future races. So [Verstappen’s] recovery I thought was very strong, but still Mercedes have quite a lot of pace in hand as we see.”
Red Bull’s struggle to understand the RB16 has resulted in the team making sweeping set-up changes to the car in a bid to get on top of the problems. Both drivers have also suffered spins at the opening races as a result of the car proving especially difficult when on the limit.
— Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) July 19, 2020
Horner said Red Bull’s key focus was on understanding why in some conditions the car was strong, whereas in others it was less predictable.
“I think we’ve got something misbehaving aerodynamically,” he added. “It’s obviously a matter of understanding that and addressing it. In certain conditions, the car behaves as expected.
“But I think we got some very good data from this weekend. So obviously the team will be working hard to understand it and resolve it as quickly as we can.”
With Mercedes well clear in both World Championships – Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are 30 and 25 points respectively ahead of Verstappen in the drivers’ standings – it is already starting to look as though both titles are again heading to the German manufacturer this year.
Asked by Autosport if he felt the gap was closable, Horner said: “It’s a significant gap but it depends on how much performance we can unlock on our car.
“We know we’ve got the fundamental basics of a decent car. It’s just not behaving as our simulation tools predict it will.
“We need to understand that and make sure we are achieving what it should be doing, which hasn’t been the case.”