Red Bull team boss Christian Horner hit out at the power deficit his team has to the field-leading Mercedes and Ferrari engines. Last weekend’s British Grand Prix highlighted this deficit with its unbelievably high amount of full-throttle sections.
After winning on the home track at Spielberg a week ago, Red Bull had to play second fiddle to Mercedes and Ferrari at Silverstone. The energy drink-owned team’s drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo qualified only fifth and sixth in the all-important Saturday’s session. Not the position, but Verstappen’s deficit of 0.720 seconds to the pole-setting time of Lewis Hamilton was alarming. The four-time GP winner was furious after the qualifying session and claimed that Renault power unit has a 70-80hp deficit to Mercedes and Ferrari, leading to a time loss of around one second on the straights.
Team boss Christian Horner said that the high-speed nature of the Silverstone circuit and downforce levels of the current F1 cars which allow drivers to take some corners at full speed highlighted the Renault deficit.
"The problem with Silverstone now is that it's such a wide open throttle circuit, you're talking 82% in qualifying full throttle," he is quoted as saying by autosport.com.
Silverstone has always been a high-speed track with blindingly quick corners and long straights, but last year’s technical revamp increased the speed cars can reach even more. With the lower sitting bigger rear wing, wider front wing, more complex bargeboards, cars generate incredible downforce, allowing its drivers to accelerate earlier, brake later and even to take some turns flat-out.
"Corners like Copse, Becketts, Stowe - they're not quite the challenge they were in these cars, because everybody is flat through Copse now.
"It just scrubs speed, so it's made it much more power-centric, because where you really need the power is when you put steering lock into the car and you put scrub into the car. That's when the power really kicks in. And we see it time and time again - Turn 3 at Barcelona, Turn 3 in Sochi, Turn 7 in Austria - it's a known issue.”
Ferrari and Mercedes were using lower-downforce, spoon-shaped rear wings at Silverstone while Red Bull had to commit to an even flatter wing to be able to mimic the top speeds of its rivals.
"If you look at the rear wings on the cars, we're running Spa levels of downforce [at Silverstone] and everybody else is running that bit more. In qualifying I think every single corner we were quicker than Sebastian, but we just hose time down the straights," concluded Horner.