Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner is confident the team will shrink the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari at the front of the field by mid-season, with updates from engine partner Honda “in the pipeline”.

Red Bull has failed to fight for victory at any of the opening three rounds of the 2019 season, picking up one third-place finish courtesy of Max Verstappen at the first race in Australia last month.

The team had entered 2019 with high hopes after switching from Renault to Honda power units, but Horner is confident of updates arriving from the Japanese manufacturer that will help cut the gap at the head of the pack.

“It is all about evolution. Our goal this year has been all about closing the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari and we are doing that,” Horner said.

“[In China] we split the Ferraris. We are certainly closer on pace to Mercedes. There will be more concertinaing that will happen between now and the halfway point of the year.”

Asked if Honda still did not have a ‘party mode’ engine setting – used by Mercedes and Ferrari in Q3 – Horner said: “I think they are making progress with it.

“There is stuff in the pipeline that will certainly help, but others aren’t standing still.”

Red Bull looked particularly uncompetitive in Bahrain at the end of March, but Horner said after the race in China that progress had been made with the RB15 chassis to put it in a stronger position.

“I think the chassis is getting into a much happier place now, it has been a positive weekend,” Horner said.

“We had a very good test after Bahrain where we understood some of our issues and gone some way to addressing them.

“There is still more progress to be made but we’re on the right path.”

Additional reporting by Michael Lamonato.