Engine partner was ‘missing ingredient’ for Red Bull before Honda arrived, says Horner
Red Bull are primed for a title assault in 2020 as they bid to topple reigning champs Mercedes, and Team Principal Christian Horner reckons engine suppliers Honda might just be their secret weapon.
The Bulls are chasing their first title since 2013 – the year they won the last of their four drivers' and constructors' championship doubles before the Silver Arrows began to dominate the hybrid era – and Horner believes they now have all the building blocks in place to mount a serious challenge. He particularly singled out Honda, who replaced Renault as the team's power unit suppliers in 2019.
“I think we've got a very strong team," he said. "Our driver line-up, our team, the strength and depth that we have within the team [and] I think our engine partners are a key aspect as well.
“It's been the missing ingredient in the last few years, and I think that relationship with Honda we saw really grow during the course of last year, with the three victories we achieved, the pole positions that we achieved.”
All three of those victories came from Max Verstappen, who shone in Austria and triumphed through the unforgettable chaos of Germany, and again in Brazil. Now the team are aiming for more success with a stable driver line-up, as Alex Albon begins his first full season with them.
“Heading into a second year with the continuity, with the power unit more integrated into the chassis, of course, our expectations grow and they rise and our targets are very high this year. That's the challenge," Horner said.
“We know we've got some fierce opponents and great competitors, but I think we do have the strength and depth in our team to hopefully put a real challenge together this year.”
Over the six days of pre-season testing, Red Bull managed 780 laps and short-run pace that bested Ferrari’s – with long-run pace a whisker away from Mercedes’, which bred a quiet optimism in Horner.
“It just feels that we're better prepared going into the season ahead than we were 12 months ago. The relationship is more mature between ourselves and Honda, the regulations have been stable… so I think, hopefully, we're in reasonable shape,” he added.