The Red Bull F1 team are now anticipating a grid penalty for Daniel Ricciardo at the German Grand Prix. The move is to avoid jeopardising his chances for the next race in Hungary.
Ricciardo has already crossed his allocation of internal combustion engine, turbocharger and MGU-H for the season. The Aussie knows that at some point he will need to take fresh parts.
Initially the plan was to let the Australian driver switch engines, and take a subsequent grid penalty in France. However, Red Bull’s competitiveness at Paul Ricard forced a change of plan.
The Austrian team is targeting the German GP as a potential penalty venue. But if circumstances open up at Silverstone this weekend, they will jump at the chance.
“Hopefully not this weekend, but probably we would likely incur a penalty around Hockenheim time, as we would want to avoid Hungary,” said Horner.
“Hungary is a key opportunity for us as it’s a low power dependent circuit to hopefully be in contention for a win.”
The engine penalty situation couldn’t have come at a worse possible time for Red Bull. Especially since they have hit strong form and are emerging as potential title contenders.
Max Verstappen’s Austrian GP victory ensured that Red Bull were the highest-scoring team in the last five races.
Ricciardo and Verstappen are 50 and 53 points behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel respectively. Meanwhile, the Red Bull team is 58 adrift of constructors’ leader Ferrari.
When speaking of his team’s title chances, Horner said: “I think we definitely have an outside chance: nine races, three victories, same amount of wins as Ferrari and Mercedes.
“Our Achilles heel has been not scoring with both cars, either through reliability or other incidents: although F1 is full of ifs, buts and maybes.
“If you look at the positions we were in and should have been in, then we should be leading the championship today. But the scoreboard is slightly different to that.
“We’ve closed the gap over the last few races and it’s still a long long way to go. There are 12 races left and so yeah, I think you have to consider us as an outside contender.
“There are some circuits coming up that should play to our strengths, places like Hungary, obviously Singapore. And there are circuits that will not be so good for us.
“But I think one of our major assets is as a race team, we’re extremely versatile and we’ve been very creative on strategy, pitstops, pit work as a team. The team’s working extremely, extremely well.
“So I think there is a chance in both championships and we certainly haven’t written anything off at this point in the year.”