Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner has admitted that the Milton Keynes-based outfit needs to raise its game over the remaining six races of the Formula One season if it is to remain in the battle for fourth place in the constructors' championship.
RBR heads to Spa-Francorchamps for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix having struggled to match rivals such as Toyota and Renault in recent races, with a couple of disappointing outings in Budapest and Valencia highlighting a demise that began when Mark Webber swapped a front row spot at Silverstone for the back of the field after a first lap spin.
“After a very strong first half of the season, the team has endured a very frustrating past few weeks, with no points scored in the last four races," Horner confirmed, "The next few circuits, in particular Spa, should play to the strengths of the RB4 package, so it is extremely important that we reverse this trend and get back on terms with Renault and close the gap to Toyota."
Horner says that the team has used the summer break and post-race analysis after the extremely disappointing Valencia weekend to try and pin-point areas of weakness with its car, which appeared a threat for points at almost every round up to its home grand prix.
"Valencia did not play to our strengths, but we are convinced we can bounce back," the team boss commented, "Over the past six weeks, we have analysed our performance in great detail and that analysis reveals the chassis is working well and we have pushed very hard in the factory to improve in all areas.
“Tyres are proving to be the biggest factor at the moment. Over the past couple of months, Toyota has looked very strong tyre wise in the higher temperatures. It's not a case of our rivals suddenly 'bolting on' more performance. It's down to tyre usage and they have handled that better than us. We have understood why this happened and I feel we can get on top of this situation and return to our earlier form for the final third of the season”
"Apart from anything else, there are a lot more high-speed corners than in Budapest or Valencia! We had a good test in Monza and, although that was aimed primarily at the Italian Grand Prix, the results of the test answered several fundamental questions about our package.
"Apart from the track characteristics, the weather always plays a crucial part in Belgium, therefore we will need to be particularly sharp operationally and in terms of strategy, dealing with the fact that, sometimes, half the track can be dry and the other half wet. We need to go there and attack the weekend, we need both our drivers to be on top of their game, aiming to finish in the points.
"At the moment, the section of the grid that includes, BMW, Renault, Toyota, ourselves, Williams and now, Sebastian Vettel, is extremely tight and, as we've seen at the last few races, one tenth of a second can make the difference between four grid positions. Even with the long lap at Spa, I think we can expect a very tight grid, while the early Autumn weather, with the race taking place a weekend later than usual, can add further unpredictability.”