Christian Horner says Red Bull and engine suppliers Renault have taken a big step in the right direction following the Canadian Grand Prix after demonstrating a turnaround in fortunes compared with the same race twelve months ago.
In the midst of a difficult 2015 season for the former title-winning team, Red Bull arguably endured its nadir in Canada last year as both Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat finished a lap adrift having qualified 1.5secs off the pace.
Having shown race winning pace in Spain and Monaco this year, though the higher speed nature of the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit counted against the Renault-powered RB12 over the weekend compared with Mercedes and Ferrari, Red Bull nonetheless proved competitive just three tenths off pole position.
It is this rate of improvement at a venue Horner expected Red Bull to struggle that he feels shows how far the team has come in a relatively short space of time.
“I think if you look at our straight line speeds they are a step in the right direction. We have still got more to go. But I think for this circuit that is power dominated, compared to twelve months ago where we were a lap or so behind we have gone from 1.5secs off in qualifying last year to this year being three tenths away.
“I think it really is a step in the right direction and there will be some tracks where Ferrari will be a bit stronger and hopefully we will have our days when we are stronger than them as well.”
With Verstappen finishing fourth after withstanding pressure in the final laps from Nico Rosberg, Horner was impressed with the way the Red Bull compared in terms of speed.
“Previous years he would have gone passed either side, no matter which side you picked. So for Max to be able to defend the way he did and as you say, he wouldn't have been able to do that 12 months ago.”