Christian Horner says he understands why Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz has threatened to pull his company out of Formula 1 if the team doesn't make a swift return to competiveness.

Champions between 2010 and 2013, Red Bull suffered a relatively lean year in 2014 as Mercedes established itself as the new F1 'force', but is enduring an even tougher start to 2015 with its cars mired in the mid-field with an engine that Renault admits is down on power and reliability.

Though team manager Horner has toned down his critique of Renault since he publically named and shamed it in the wake of the Australian Grand Prix opener, Mateschitz's position that Red Bull could exit F1 if it doesn't feel it is competitive remains firm, the Austrian reiterating the threat in China.

Related Articles

For Horner, he understands why its current level of performance, considering its recent dominance, will be seen as 'bad for PR' by the top brass.

"I understand his position and his frustration and to a certain degree I'm sure Renault's board could share the same frustration," he said.

"We understand we have issues. Those issues are supposed to be addressed by some of the many things going on at Renault Sport. There are things waiting for things to happen. There is a plan. We need to understand if that plan is commensurate with the issues we've seen on track.

"This plan was more focused on power because we saw that was where we were missing. We've got all the driveability issues completely out of the way.

"We need to understand those reliability issues because a problem with reliability is bad for PR and also when you have to address reliability issues you're not necessarily in a position to address power, which is also still missing."

Red Bull and Renault put on a more united front than of late in China, as demonstrated by Cyril Abiteboul joining Horner in his traditional post-race media session to allay concerns of more acrimony between the two.

Even so, he feels Materschitz's words are pointed to Renault specifically, rather than the team itself.

"I think if you look carefully at his comments, he is encouraging Renault to step up and do the job properly. There's a lot of talented people in Viry, they've got a great heritage and they are better than what we are seeing. It is a question of how you respond to the situation you are in."

Even so, the future of their collaboration still remains uncertain. Toro Rosso has already made public an apparent desire to join forces with Renault in what would become a de facto works team, but though Red Bull is understood to want to off-load Toro Rosso generally, doing so to its engine partner threatens to compromise itself significantly with no other obvious supplier in the pipeline.