Although Christian Horner believes that in the RB13 Red Bull have the “basis of a good car”, he concedes Mercedes remain the team to beat.
Focusing on reliability and not lap times, Red Bull had a low-key start to pre-season testing in Spain.
Neither Daniel Ricciardo nor Max Verstappen topped the timesheets on any of the four days with the Aussie the fastest of the two on the overall timesheet but 1.5s shy of Valtteri Bottas’s best in the Mercedes.
Horner, though, insists Red Bull are focusing on their own programme and doing what they need to do to prepare for the Australian GP.
“As a team we’ve never, ever won the winter world championship,” the Red Bull team boss told Motorsport.com.
“We prefer to have the niggly issues here, and get them out the way going into the season, than turning up in Melbourne and having a bunch of issues.
“We’re going about our own programme, we’re learning, the car is behaving as expected, and gives us a good development path. The drivers seem happy and content with the car, so it’s positive.”
He added: “For us, we’ve had a sensible first week.
“We had a few little issues, nothing major, just annoying time-wasters – whether it be an exhaust or sensor issues earlier in the week. Generally, we’ve got some really good feedback from the car.
“We’re very much focused on our own programme. The drivers are very much enjoying the new generation of car – the challenge that it’s posing. Early days, but we’re content with progress so far.”
Asked whether Red Bull thought there were signs that they had closed the gap on Mercedes, Horner replied: “Look, Mercedes are absolutely the favourites – they’ve been the dominant team the past three years.
“During the last three years we’ve won five races, Ferrari have won three, Mercedes have won nearly 60 races. So of course they’re going to be the favourites.
“But the RB13 looks like it’s got the basis of a good car, and of course with immature regulations development is going to come thick and fast – event to event. It’s going to be a development race really, from this point now all the way to Abu Dhabi.”