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Horner: We're in no man's land

NEWS STORY
19/05/2017

While Force India is just 19 points behind, Christian Horner is convinced that Monaco will be a case of 'business as usual', with both his drivers collecting a decent points haul and thereby opening up the gap again.

"We are a bit in no-man's land," he tells the official F1 website. "We are trying to start playing with the big boys! And if we are going to manage that, probably one of our drivers could dictate what happens in the drivers' championship. Because if you have five or six drivers fighting for a win on a Grand Prix weekend, that becomes a somewhat different dynamic."

Minded that not too long ago Red Bull was one of the "big boys", he admits: "Yes, that's true. But we have demonstrated also last season that we can at least play phoenix!

"Exactly one year ago we had the same amount of points when we arrived in Barcelona and we managed to catch and beat Ferrari. Nobody would have expected that at the very beginning of 2016. So things can change quickly. And one of the key factors for us going strong last year was the engine upgrade in Monaco."

Of course, engines are a sore point at Red Bull and have been for some time. Renault is aiming to have an upgrade ready for Azerbaijan, but it is understood the first units will be for its works team.

"It seems to be work in progress," he admits. "They said it will be the third engine and it depends on the introduction of that engine.

"Sure, we are keen to have it as soon as possible. We hope it will be Montreal. We are going to church every week to pray that it will happen as soon as possible."

Already, Helmut Marko has warned that the sport must find an independent supplier of competitive engines, the Austrian admitting, not for the first time, that should this not happen Red Bull could walk.

"There seems to be some healthy discussions going on between Ross Brawn, the FIA and different engine manufacturers - both automotive and independent," says Horner. "F1 desperately needs the engine issue being addressed from many aspects, as it is the key to the future - from a cost point of view, from a performance point of view, and from a sound and entertainment point of view.

"These are really major elements that need to be addressed," he continues. "I am sure the commercial rights holder would like to have a competitive, independent engine, because that wouldn't give so much power to the manufacturers, as if they said ‘we are leaving' then we would be left standing in the rain without engines."

Talking of Marko, the Austrian recently said that the team's season is already over.

"That is probably his Austrian way of seeing things," laughs Horner. "The glass always seems to be half empty. Helmut has a very immediate reaction to things... good or bad. Perhaps I am a bit more hopeful. I truly believe that the second half will turn the table in our favour.

"We are doing the best that we can with the resources that we have. I have no doubt that the second half of the season will be much stronger for us than the first half.

Though it wasn't reflected in the race result, Barcelona marked a significant upgrade for the RBR13.

"It's part of an ongoing process throughout the season," he replies, "but yes, Barcelona was a reasonably big package.

"The early indications are reasonably positive but as with all new things they have to bed in before you really can make a final verdict.

"In Barcelona we were in the tuning process by changing set-ups to see what works best. And it worked well enough for a podium finish for Daniel, and my guess is that also Max would have had a good race, as he was very inspired from his memory of last year.

"Usually if you bring something bigger it hardly ever happens that you put it on the car and it immediately works," he continues. "Everything has to work in conjunction and harmony with all the other parts. But we can already see that we were closer again.

"Only a couple of tenths behind Ferrari and within something of sixth-tenths to benchmark Mercedes. And the feeling is clearly that there is more potential to come and that we see it opens up more avenues that we can exploit in the races to come."

Asked if Adrian Newey has lost his touch, Horner replies: "I don't believe so. Yes, he has been splitting his time between (Red Bull) Advanced Technologies and Formula One, but he has been working very hard on this car and he has an incredibly talented crew around him.

One thing Red Bull doesn't have to worry about is drivers, Ricciardo and Verstappen both contracted beyond 2017.

"If you invest in people you invest for the longer term," he replies, "with Daniel and with Max, and with Sebastian Vettel prior to that. Their contractual situation is very clear and transparent."

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1. Posted by bfairey, 20/05/2017 4:09

"3.5L v8"

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2. Posted by F One, 19/05/2017 20:18

"Red Bull blaming the engine again? Surely not!?!?"

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3. Posted by edllorca, 19/05/2017 14:12

"Don't complain, it could be worse..."

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