Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has dismissed fears over the considerable gap seen between his drivers and the all-dominant Mercedes pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the end of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The Milton Keynes-based outfit recorded their strongest finish of the season so far in Spain, as Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel came home in third and fourth.
However, questions have been raised over the considerable gap seen between race winner Lewis Hamilton and third place man Ricciardo, with the Australian a full 48 seconds adrift of the 2008 champion and his Mercedes team-mate Rosberg come the end of the race.
Horner insists that the gap in fact flattered Mercedes, arguing that were it not for the time that Ricciardo spent behind the Williams of Valtteri Bottas in the opening phase of the race, the Australian – who claimed his maiden podium in Spain – would have finished closer to Hamilton and Rosberg, in what is an improved Red Bull.
“The 48-second gap is slightly artificial because we lost a lot of time behind the Williams during the first stint,” he said. “Once you find yourself in no-man’s land until the end of the race you are then just managing the tyres.
“If you look at the last stint in particular, where Mercedes were flat out and Sebastian and Daniel had a bit of clear air, we have definitely moved a bit closer.
“There’s still some way to go, but we have definitely moved a bit closer. And for sure they were pushing as hard as they could, so it wasn’t like Mercedes were taking it easy.”
“It is a significant gap that we still have to overcome but it is great to see we have made progress and made a step ahead of the Ferraris and the rest of the field.
Horner was also quick to praise the nature of Sebastian Vettel’s performance during the race, the German recovering to finish fourth with a feisty drive from 15th on the grid, after a trouble-hit weekend that saw him stop out on track twice.
“This weekend you could see in the race, the recovery drive he had, fastest lap, the way he hunted down the Ferraris, it looked like he’s got his mojo back.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic