Despite the team winning first podium finishes of the season last time out at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner is not sharing the same optimism for a repeat performance at this weekend’s visit to Belgium.
The Milton Keynes squad went into the summer break boosted by its best result of the season at the Hungaroring, where Daniil Kvyat and teammate Daniel Ricciardo finished second and third behind Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.
The next two events on the calendar at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza are, however, notoriously power-dependent and that does not bode well for the team. Its Renault engines are still well down on the power output and reliability stakes behind Mercedes and Ferrari.
“They’re going to be much more challenging than Hungary and Singapore is probably our next opportunity to shine,” Horner said ahead of this weekend’s 44-lap race, which was won last year by Ricciardo.
“You’ve got to be in a position on those days when it doesn’t go right for others,” he added, referring to Ricciardo’s surprise win, which came after the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton collided while disputing the lead.
Ricciardo would be at long odds to repeat his 2014 success, as he is facing the almost inevitable threat of serving a grid penalty for an expected power unit change. The Australian is already up to his fifth allocated power unit; each driver is allowed five apiece for the entire season.
“I think inevitably we’re going to take another engine, especially with Ricciardo. Engine five is all he’s got until Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays now,” Horner added.
“Probably in the next couple of races we’re going to have to take another unit. Whether that’s with one driver or both, we’ll have to have a look at the numbers.”
While admitting that he is certain to struggle in straight-line speed, Ricciardo was confident that the Spa-Francorchamps circuit will play to the handling strengths of the Red Bull Racing RB11 chassis.
“Spa we will suffer more in the straights, but in the corners – especially the second sector – we are looking pretty good,” the Australian added.
“A lot of the back to back corners have rhythm and flow, so this track is one our strengths.”
Image via Red Bull Racing