BARCELONA (Reuters) - Red Bull are hoping that engine and chassis upgrades will help them beat Ferrari and Formula One champions Mercedes more often after Max Verstappen’s Spanish Grand Prix victory on Sunday.
Apart from becoming the sport’s youngest race winner, the 18-year-old Dutch driver secured the former world champions their first triumph since the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix.
It was also the first win since that August afternoon for engine suppliers Renault, even if the Red Bull cars now carry the name of Swiss watch company Tag Heuer after relations with the French manufacturer frayed almost to breaking point last year.
Red Bull have been busy mending fences since then, a necessary move given that nobody else was willing to take Renault’s place, and team principal Christian Horner continued that process on Sunday.
“I have to pay compliments to our Tag Heuer engine partners who have done a great job in making progress,” he said to laughter from reporters.
“I think that with what’s in the pipeline for coming races there’s a lot of reason for optimism. If we get what’s advertised then it’s going to put us in a position at least to race Ferraris every weekend,” he added.
“Then, hopefully, we can get into trying to close that gap with Mercedes at certain circuits.”
Renault will be testing an upgraded power unit at the Barcelona circuit this week with plans to introduce it at next month’s Canadian Grand Prix for Red Bull and their own Renault factory team.
Mercedes had won 36 of the previous 42 races until Sunday, with Ferrari the only team to beat them last year. They have dominated the sport since the V6 turbo hybrid power units replaced the V8s in 2014.
Monaco, the slowest of street circuits with its tight and twisty layout, is next up with outright power less important than driveability.
Until Barcelona, Red Bull had considered that classic race their best chance of winning this season.
“If we can find a few tenths on the power unit side, it’s certainly going to be gratefully received,” said Horner, when asked whether Renault might bring the upgrade forward for Monaco.
“Let’s see how the test goes but if there was any opportunity to be even more competitive in Monaco we’d take it. But that’s a decision for the guys from Renault,” he said.
“We’ll do the testing and then they will look at the numbers.”
Editing by Ed Osmond