Horner worried by Renault's safety-first approach

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing
© XPB 

Red Bull Boss Christian Horner was happy to see cars back on track at last in 2018, at a chilly Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Even better as far as Horner was concerned, his driver Daniel Ricciardo put the team on top. He set the best time of the day before lunch.

“It was a positive first morning," Horner said. "It’s good to be back, good to see the cars running. It feels like a long winter, but it’s been a good start."

However Horner admitted that he was concerned by recent comments from Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul about the manufacturer's view of engine development in 2018.

With only three engines allowed for the year, Abiteboul has indicated that Renault will take a zero risk approach to reliability - even at the expense of power and performance.

"It is a concern," Horner told Motorsport.com when asked about Abiteboul's remarks. He said that it would mean "the gap will only broaden" to rivals Mercedes at the front.

He explained that he "didn't think it would be great" if it led to another year of Mercedes domination.

But Horner remains hopeful that once Renault achieves its reliability objectives, it will then be free to find ways to turn up the power.

"Reliability has been a big priority for Renault over the winter," he said. "They have completed more mileage than they have done in this V6 era.

"They are coming into this year better prepared," he continued. "Hopefully that will allow focus to start to centre on performance.

"We're hopeful of seeing more performance and performance converging between engine manufacturers."

Red Bull's contract for Renault engines expires at the end of the current season. But Horner said that might not be the end of the road for the partnership.

"All things are open for 2019 onwards," he said, adding that Renault could "absolutely" continue to supply Red Bull with engines next year.

Horner agreed that a lot hinges on how well the junior Toro Rosso squad gets on in its first season with Honda.

"We will play close attention to how things develop at Toro Rosso," he noted. "But there are no preconceptions as we head into the season."

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