Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted he is surprised rival teams failed to match their off-season development gains.
The world champions have won the first five grands prix of this season, their drivers finishing one-two in four of those, and claimed pole position four times.
Max Verstappen has scored twice as many points as anyone bar team mate Sergio Perez and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, and Red Bull’s 122-point lead at the top of the constructors’ standings means the team has also twice the number of points of their closest rival.
But despite the large margins at the top of the points tables, Horner is not taking the team’s position for granted. He expects their rivals to improve their pace with upgrades once the Formula 1 calendar returns to Europe.
“You can never write everybody off,” he told media including RaceFans after the Miami Grand Prix.
“I think it’s been the best start that we’ve had, but we feel that we’ve made a good step from the RB18 to RB19. But the kind of step that you would expect.
“So I think it’s more that it feels like others have lost ground. And I’m sure that they’re working hard to address that. So big gains could come quite quickly.”
Red Bull is allowed the least development time of any team this year, partly due to its success last season and partly due to the penalty it received for exceeding the cost cap during 2021. They are allowed to spend less time on wind tunnel and CFD testing than everyone else on the grid, which could leave them vulnerable in being able to respond in concept development if rivals introduce parts to their cars that lead to big performance gains.
Following Red Bull’s strong end to last season – they won 10 out of their final 11 rounds – Horner expected their rivals to find more performance than they did over the winter.
“I think it surprised us that the others have perhaps under-delivered compared to where they were last year. But no doubt they will be looking to address that. And I’m sure starting in Imola we’re going to see big updates starting to come through.”
Horner says that “until mathematically things are done, which is still a long, long way away”, Red Bull should not be considered champions-in-waiting.
“We’ve got a great car, we’ve got a great team, we’ve got two great drivers. But still a long way to go. Let’s reserve judgement until after we see what they turn up with in Imola and Barcelona.”
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