Christian Horner says Red Bull can take “a lot of encouragement” from the progress made over the winter by engine partner Renault.
Having grown frustrated with the French manufacturer in the current 1.6-litre V6 turbo era, the energy drinks giants spent most of last year trying to secure another power supply only to be rebuffed by the other three constructors.
Red Bull and Renault willy-nilly extended their association, though the Austrian company, which considered developing its own engine early in 2014, is badging its power units after its new main sponsor TAG Heuer.
Asked about the latest engine power unit specification after Daniel Ricciardo came home fourth at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Horner replied:
“I think the power unit’s definitely made progress over the winter. There’s still a long way to go but it’s great that, particularly in race conditions which is what we saw in testing, there has been progress in performance.
“There’s still some way to go but hopefully the guys will take back a lot of encouragement that they’re going in the right direction.”
Having said over the winter that the switch was worth 0.8s for the Red Bull junior outfit, Horner says he was not surprised by its pace.
“The Toro Rosso car you can see is fast, particularly over a single lap. Lewis [Hamilton] couldn’t pass a Toro Rosso on the straight, he passed us a little easier than he did those guys.
“You can see they’ve got a competitive car and for sure we expect them to be, as predicted pre-season, they will be quick, certainly in the first half of the year before upgrades start to kick in.”