Christian Horner says Red Bull were able to extract more performance from their Honda power units as a result of an upgrade brought to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Honda’s update focused on reliability rather than performance, although Horner says a pace advantage was felt as a result.
Max Verstappen finished fourth in Baku, seeing a late charge for third curtailed by the Virtual Safety Car triggered by team-mate Pierre Gasly retiring with a driveshaft failure towards the end of the race.
Gasly himself had recovered to sixth after starting in the pit lane.
Having introduced a new engine at just the fourth race of the season, it means penalties are likely further on in the campaign, but Horner says it is a price worth paying for the improved performance.
Horner said of Red Bull’s start to life with Honda: “It’s been positive. They had a strong race, and then we could run the engine a little bit harder in the race as well. So it’s all part of that evolution.
“There were no issues with the previous engine that we have, so they’ll be used on Fridays.
“We were always planning this year to take more than three engines. This is part of that – for them to catch [Mercedes and Ferrari] they’ve got to push the boundaries, which is exactly what they’re doing.”
Red Bull will bring upgrades of their own to the next race in Barcelona, although Horner warned against expecting any monumental changes as a result.
“It’s fairly subtle and it’s just evolution,” Horner explained. “It will be the usual front and rear wing upgrades. It’s evolution rather than revolution.”