RED BULL: NO 2016 MIRACLES
Second lean year predicted as team looks to 2017 changes
Christian Horner has warned that his Red Bull team may endure another difficult season this year, but is confident the team can be back at the front for 2017.
Red Bull will rejoin the grid with a supply of Renault engines badged by watch brand TAG Heuer this year, having renegotiated the terms of its power unit supply deal with the French manufacturer.
The Milton Keynes team endured a torrid 2015 campaign, which was blighted by engine issues on-track and the escalating feud with Renault off it.
Under the terms of the new deal, Red Bull will run upgraded 2016 spec Renault power units, but under the TAG badge, as a stop-gap to keep it on the grid. Red Bull’s partnership with the Ilmor Engineering firm opens the door for the team to pursue a different development strategy to that of the returning works Renault team.
Horner said he wasn’t expecting a miraculous turn in form at the start of this year, and instead hinted that the team would work towards a more sustainable engine option from 2017.
“Sometimes [a difficult season] brings a group closer together and I feel this team is closer than it’s ever been before,” he said. “Last year was a very different challenge for us, but we haven’t lost any major team members and we did a tremendous job of getting our heads down and focusing on the chassis. We out-developed others chassis-wise last year and had a tremendous car [in that respect]. I believe we will have a very strong chassis [this year] and we can only worry about things we can control.
“We’re just going to have to tread water for a moment until we get ourselves back onto the front foot and our time will come again.”
Horner also said he believed a season of stability for Red Bull would put it on a better footing to secure a more competitive engine deal for 2017, when new chassis and engine regulations are due to be introduced.
When asked about the team’s future engine plans beyond 2016, Horner said: “It’s difficult to say at the moment, but I believe we should be in a better position.
“I think 2017 represents a whole new beginning. There’s a new set of chassis regulations, which is another opportunity for the group to get hold of a clean sheet of paper. I think the future looks very bright for this team.”