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- Updated: May 22, 2017
It may have been Red Bull’s involvement in Pirelli’s 2017 Formula One test programme last year that has had a big impact on their results this year, according to the club boss Christian Horner. The main reason he has cited is that the tyres did not develop as expected.
Red Bull joined Mercedes and Ferrari in agreeing to create ‘mule cars’ to help Pirelli prepare for the new downforce regulations.
At the time, there was a thought that those participating in this would gain an advantage going into the new campaign, despite the blind nature of the testing and Pirelli’s promise to share data.
Recently, though, in an with GP Gazette, Horner suggested that Red Bull took a decision for the worse with the RB13 because the definitive 2017 tyres were not what the team anticipated after the mule car testing.
“Obviously the regulation change was reasonably significant over the winter, and I think actually running the Pirelli mule car hurt us in a few ways,” said Horner.
“A few things changed late in with the tyres that we potentially were designing the car around. I think that may have perhaps influenced our development direction.
“I wouldn’t say it backfired, but it definitely led us in a direction that wasn’t conducive to the tyres that were ultimately nominated. The simple facts are that Mercedes and Ferrari did a better job of interpreting those regulations than we did over the winter.
“We then found ourselves on the back foot in winter testing.”
The Red Bull supremo said that the team’s development was scuppered further by engine problems that Renault was facing. This eventually led to a bad experience in Barcelona.
“We didn’t do anywhere near as many miles as we wanted to, because we were sat in the garage for a lot of the time with engine issues, so it was only really after Australia that we got to see a picture, and we’d got quite a bit of performance to find,” he said.
“The characteristics the drivers were describing from the car, it wasn’t a balanced car. A huge amount of effort has gone into understanding the areas of weakness and addressing those.
Horner remains confident that things will get better as the season wears on.
“We know the areas of weakness, and it’s then addressing those weaknesses,” he said.
“I think that’s half the battle in many respects. We’ve got a very capable group of people that have demonstrated what their potential is with previous cars, and I’ve got no doubt that they will sort this car out.
“You obviously get into diminishing returns. But we definitely closed the gap in Barcelona, and we’re going in the right direction.
“I believe the second half of the season for us will be far more competitive than the first.”