Bitter boss clips Ricciardo’s new mates
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has taken a sly swipe at former engine supplier Renault, saying new power unit provider Honda has helped establish a far more productive partnership.
Red Bull swapped from Renault to Honda this year after tension built up between the French outfit and energy drink team over the performance of engines, to the point where a relationship between them was untenable.
A series of mechanical failures in 2018 saw Red Bull regularly point the finger at Renault, while the Enstone-based team defended itself and often hit back with barbs of its own.
The relationship between Horner and his opposite number Cyril Abiteboul only became more fractured when Renault signed Daniel Ricciardo for 2019 but Red Bull has been buoyed by the improved performances of its engines this year, saying it was a nice change to be in business with someone who delivered on promises.
"Obviously we saw an awful lot of spreadsheets over the years, from Viry (Renault's engine headquarters) but never realised the potential of what was on those sheets," Horner told Motorsport.com.
"This is the first year where everything that was promised was absolutely delivered.
"And it's just a different environment, it's a different type of partnership.
"It's a true partnership, and you can see what it means to Honda when they get a result, when they get a pole position and they get a victory, the emotion, the pride, the satisfaction throughout the whole business.
"The progression from Honda, with each engine that they've introduced and together with our fuel partner, the whole thing is working in harmony.
"So rather than to get fighting, always feeling very much as a customer, it's been a true partnership. And they share the same goals and objectives as we do. You're seeing the benefits of that."
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In Ricciardo's absence, former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen had his best season yet as he finished third in the drivers' standings and Alex Albon showed plenty of promise after being given a seat when Pierre Gasly was demoted.
And while Red Bull was still well behind Mercedes and Ferrari in the hunt for the constructors' championship this year, Horner is optimistic about what lies ahead in 2020.
"It really has been beyond expectations," Horner said last week. "The relationship with Honda has been fantastic. The reliability, the performance increase with each engine, has been very much a highlight.
"The way Max has driven as well has been very, very positive.
"We go into the winter with a lot of motivation.
"I think with stability of the regulations going into 2020, hopefully we can be the challenger team next year. Mercedes have had another very strong year and are the benchmark still, but it feels like we are getting closer.
"Theoretically, the car you see in three months will be an upgrade of the cars (in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix).
"It feels like we are on the right trajectory, so unless we miss something, hopefully we can be competitive at the start of next season."
With Sky Sports