Christian Horner says Red Bull’s drivers are forced to pull out all the stops in qualifying to make up for their Renault’s engine’s relative weakness in the Saturday afternoon session.
Renault is still trailing Mercedes and Ferrari in the engine department, but in addition to its power deficit the French power unit also lacks the specific engine modes that its rivals resort to in Q3.
Without the relative weakness Horner is convinced Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen would be consistently challenging for outright wins on Sundays.
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“I think the key thing for us is trying to increase competitiveness on a Saturday afternoon, because grid position is so important,” Horner said.
“It puts too much pressure on the drivers in Q3, because they’re having to find even more performance, because we don’t have the ability to go with our rivals’ engine modes.
“Hopefully around Montreal time, there is the next engine introduction. We are hoping for a performance increase.”
Horner admitted however that last weekend’s venue, where overtaking is at a premium, emphasized the team’s RB14’s deficit in qualifying trim.
“I think track position is everything at a circuit like this. Unfortunately the damage done on a Saturday compromises your race at a track like this on a Sunday.
“Looking at the pace of the car it looked on a par with what Lewis [Hamilton] could do, particularly in the second half of the race.
“The problem is when you are caught up in traffic you are damaging the car, when you are clean air it’s a lot easier to manage.
“[Daniel] was coming through the backmarkers and we actually turned the engine down.
“So I think the encouraging thing is the upgrades have all worked reasonably well this weekend and once again we’ve demonstrated we got a competitive car on a Sunday afternoon.”
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