Red Bull can close the gap to Mercedes in 2021 despite development limits – Horner

2021 F1 season

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Red Bull can close the gap to Mercedes despite the limits on how teams can develop their cars for the 2021 F1 season, says team principal Christian Horner.

The team have been the closest challengers to Mercedes so far this season, but have only been able to win one race. However Horner said they have clear progress with its RB16 in recent events.

“I think we’ve understood some of the issues that we’ve got with the car and we’re obviously working hard to address those,” he said. “Hopefully in the remaining races we should be able to take steps that will improve the car in that area.”

In order to reduce costs, F1 has extended the life of the current technical regulations for one more season, with few changes. Teams must carry over the same cars from one season to the next, but have a number of ‘tokens’ they can spend to upgrade certain areas.

While the sport awaits the arrival of sweeping new technical regulations in 2022, Horner believes Red Bull can narrow the gap to Mercedes in the meantime.

“I think ’22 is the big opportunity,” he said. “I think ’21, when you consider the DNA of these cars is carried over, there’s a lot of carryover parts but that doesn’t mean to say if we can unlock more potential in our car and develop the car effectively then yes, of course, I think we can close that gap.”

Horner stressed the Honda-powered team need more than just improvements on the power unit side of their package. “It’s always a combination,” he said. “It’s about working together. We share the same goal, we share the same objective and I’m confident we can collectively get there.

“Mercedes have had such a period of domination but as we all know in sport, at some point in time, that will come to an end. That’s inevitable.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “Red Bull can close the gap to Mercedes in 2021 despite development limits – Horner”

  1. It is also inevitable Redbull drops out of top 3 teams, can’t wait to see how Max handles being overtaken by faster cars.

    1. “It is also inevitable Redbull drops out of top 3 teams”

      Lol, by who? Which team has been even a remote threat to Max in his Red Bull this year?

      “can’t wait to see how Max handles being overtaken by faster cars.”

      Well, so far he is handling it fine when he is overtaken by faster cars, so no clue what you’re implying; care to elaborate?

      1. yeah I don’t get it either. Redbull has been in the top 3 since 2009…

      2. Redbull with a customer fiat engine should be fun since it does nothing but slag Renault off

      3. Every team loses form at some point, it happened to Williams, Ferrari, Renault and McLaren. It is expected that it will be RedBull’s turn to try what lower midfield feels like. As for Max, he isn’t being overtaken by anybody atm. The car is solid 2nd best and with current regulations it is difficult to overtake so Max is rarely overtaken on track. This will change once he’s got 4 or or more faster cars starting behind him. I see him being very confident or even arrogant at times and not sure how he’ll take it when he is being overtaken consistently.

  2. Same old story again, moving on.

    1. Same old comment again, moving on.

      1. Lol, that makes no sense at all. The problem is that it is still a comment that needs to be made yes.

        What I don’t understand with this extreme fan stuff is why you don’t get mad at your idol and or team? It’s not the comment that Red Bull still is unable to deliver a competitive car that is the issue. The issue is that Red Bull still is unable to deliver a competitive car.

        Or perhaps their focus driver is just slower than people imagine. Like with Ferrari in 2015 when people thought it was the car that was slow, but it later turned out to be the driver.

        Either way, why get mad at a comment when you should be mad at Red Bull and Verstappen for not getting that car improved properly for so many years in a row now?

        Maybe the restricted development is good for Red Bull. The fact that they cannot change much from 2020 to 2021 also means they should not be able to mess it all up again which would cause them to start with a poor car for 2021. Maybe finally they can start a season with a car that works and which they understand.

        1. still, you have to eat a lot of sour grapes it seems ;)

  3. I would love to understand how it saves money to have this restricted development. They have the same staff, same buildings, same infrastructure, what’s different apart from some electricity and materials? And even then they have to keep making wings and wishbones and everything, to have spares.

    They all say it so it must be true, but I don’t see how. And it’s such a loss to the sport to have the floor tunnel cars delayed for a year, they could be such a reset.

    1. @zann There’s a reason for delaying the next technical regulation changes by a year from next year to 2022.

      1. A secret reason @jerejj?

        1. @zann No, because at the time (March) there was uncertainty on the financial side of things due to COVID-19 so by delaying them, the life of teams became easier to not have to focus on a very different car concept under the circumstances and lockdown, etc.

          1. Oh Covid, well that’s not the answer to my question really @jerejj. They have to do new cars anyway, with new parts, using the same ration of CFD and wind tunnel hours … did any of their people really not bother coming in to work because it’s only the floor that’s changing and 2 tokens’ worth? The amount of activity will have been exactly the same.

            So where does a saving actually come from? After all the reason the floor has been snipped is that teams develop their cars all the time anyway, with the same activities, new designs, new parts and maximum attack.

    2. I believe the restrictions are for the more financially constrained teams to reduce operation costs without falling too far behind.

      1. Yes @OOliver but how does it reduce operational costs? They’re not laying off staff are they? Haas I suppose will have a smaller bill from Dallara, otherwise what costs are we talking about? All the people go into work, just the same, they have the heating and lights on, the wind tunnel time is the same anyway, so which bills are smaller? They save a bit on alloy billets for moulds, and a bit on resin…

        1. Those who haven’t made any purchase of carbon fabric, don’t need to place any orders.
          You are right however that some of these announcements are just symbolic but achieving nothing.

  4. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    2nd October 2020, 8:53

    Horner starting early with blowing air this season. When is he going to have his seasonly ‘we are on the best footing for next year we’ve ever been’? I understand that raising public opinion in some way is mandatory for a company, but at this point it’s just the boy who cried wolf. (Not to be mistaken for Wolff, at which Horner also cries I guess)

    In racetrim, where Red Bull would normally shine in previous seasons, Merceded has several tens of a second in the pocket. Probably more if they squeezed a bit more out of that amazing engine of theirs. Meanwhile, the bane of Red Bull Racing is still their powersource. Ironically, it seems to be Renault that made the biggest step (behind Mercedes obviously) when it comes to progress. About time really and I still think Red Bull justified moving away from them when their product was inferior.

    The fact that Ferrari was only able to take the fight to Mercedes (and still end up behind them) was because they cheated. So unless Red Bull manages to do that (good luck trying to convince Japanese Honda to search for a grey area), they’ll still be behind Mercedes next year. Yes, it’ll be a boring season when it comes to race wins, but behind it the fight will be amazing. Sadly, as has been the case with F1 time and tiem again, the most interesting battles aren’t for the first 2 spots. But trying to make it sound more interesting than it really is (as Wolff and Horner seem to be keen on doing every week now) is just an insult to viewers.

  5. Not without an engine they can’t!

    1. Sorry misread when Honda were pulling out. But now, can’t see too many engine upgrades for next year.

  6. Honda have just announced that they are out after 2021 according to AutoSport which of course was on the cards when the boss of Honda said earlier this year they were going to move towards EV’s & hydrogen.
    So Horner just talking up the teams prospects that’s a part of his job. Obviously disappointed with the failure of the engine mode changes. He now finds himself in a situation of having to find a new PU, keep his top driver satisfied till 2022 & beyond and keep the sponsors happy the second being infinitely easier.

  7. If RBR get another engine supplier they will still be major disadvantaged in 2022. The car will have to be designed around the new engine etc. Honda and RBR will already have concepts of what the car would look like in 2022 and the design would be heavily influenced by those. It will put them back some time! Will this trigger Max’s contract ‘clause’.

    1. dex I’m not at all convinced of that. They will have started on the 2022 car, but they’ve all been put on pause due to the pandemic. I predict by the time they are allowed to get back working on the 2022 cars RBR will have all the pertinent info from their new supplier, Renault presumably. And the Renault pu may not be that much different in how it fits in the chassis. They won’t be that unfamiliar with it.

  8. I’m guessing now Redbull will be saying they are not so sure anymore since the news has changed.

  9. Horner should be fired for achieving so little with so much of money since 2014.

    And Redbull should build their own engine. No engine no move.

    1. He can’t be fired for that reason…he can only be fired for his mistreatment.

  10. I’m expecting McLaren, with a merc engine, to be closer to the front assuming the car concept is strong enough. Riccardo and Norris will be more than capable of making life “interesting” for Max.

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