Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the team never set any victory targets for its first season being powered by Honda Formula 1 engines.

Having grown frustrated by Renault’s power deficit to engine rivals Mercedes and Ferrari throughout the current V6 hybrid era, Red Bull opted to end its long-term partnership with the French manufacturer in favour of a switch to Honda power units for this season.

The Milton Keynes squad was optimistic about its chances heading into 2019 and while Max Verstappen managed to score the Japanese manufacturer’s first podium since 2008 in Australia, Red Bull has so far been unable to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari for race wins.

Ahead of the season, Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said he believed Red Bull could win at least five races in 2019, which would have bettered its tally of four victories from 2018 with Renault.

Asked about Marko’s comments, Horner replied: “Helmut obviously likes to take an optimistic outlook and we are only three races in, but from a team perspective we have never set any targets in terms of race victories. Our goal is about closing that gap.

“I think we are all interested in being as competitive as we can as quickly as we can and what results come out of that, the races will dictate.”

Red Bull was well off the pace in Bahrain after struggling to find the correct set-up for its RB15 but enjoyed greater competitiveness in China, leaving Horner confident that his side can reduce the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari as the season progresses.

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

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

“Definitely we’ve made a step forward since Bahrain and we are definitely more competitive. When you look on the overlays in sector one and two [at Shanghai] we are in good shape.

“Sector three we have some work to do but we have some upgrades which will help with that which are coming soon. So, generally on that side it was a positive weekend.

“My view has always been you look at what is the quickest car and you look at what is the quickest way we can get there, and that varies from race to race,” he added.

“It was Ferrari in Bahrain and it was Mercedes [in China] and obviously everyone is working as hard as they can to close that gap. To say it is by this race or this race, history dictates it is a fallacy.”

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