Christian Horner says the opening round of the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship could be a sure sign that both Red Bull and the sport are in for a good season.
The former champions enjoyed a positive start to the year as Daniel Ricciardo ascended from eighth on the grid to fourth at the chequered flag, briefly keeping himself in the podium fight and finishing 24secs off the lead in the interrupted race.
Coming after Horner feared 'B team' Toro Rosso – which out-qualified TAG-Heuer-engined Red Bull – would have the measure at the opening round, Horner was pleased to see his team not so far away from Ferrari, adding that the new 'flexible' tyre regulations could well work in the team's favour in an effort to get on terms with those ahead.
“The race demonstrates that you haven't got to do too much to generate interest,” he said. “So something like the way those tyre compounds work, will vary, adds an element of strategy and I think we had a better race as a result of it.
“I think our plan is to make progress during the year and Ferrari isn't a huge amount ahead so if we can keep our heads down and keep pushing then it's not infeasible that in the second half of the year that we can be taking it to them a bit.”
Horner was also pleased with the decision to relax the radio transmission rules ahead of the race to allow more strategic communication. Having felt the previous ruling was too strict, Horner feels it is now the right balance between engineers not influencing how a car should be driven, but allowing them to make in-race strategic moves.
“Certainly a lot less radio traffic between the engineer and the driver. I think it was good that they were allowed to talk about strategic stuff, because that's part of being a team sport and tactics and I think that's great if the viewers get a bit of an insight into that.
“Telling a driver how to drive a car I agree completely, that's not what Formula 1 should be, but the tactics of strategy in a team sport is quite fascinating and good that it was allowed before the race.”