Currently Red Bull trail Mercedes by 173 points and Ferrari by 134 points in the Constructors’ Championship, but Horner believes the team can potentially be the second most reliable car in the second half of 2017, following showed the pace deficit progressively reduce.
“From a championship point of view, I think the gap between us and the Mercedes and the Ferraris is too big to haul back,” Horner said.
“But I would like to at least outscore Ferrari, certainly in the second half of the year.
“And if we can get into a situation to challenge for podiums and the higher places on the podium a couple of races between now and the end of the year, that is a realistic and aggressive target for us.”
Horner had previously stated that, problems at the factory caused Red Bull’s early-season problems in 2017. Another issue has been customer engine supplier Renault.
“To solve any problem, you got to break that problem down and analyses it,” he said. The guys here in the technical team did a very good job of getting a hold of that quickly.
“But of course then you’ve got a lead time of a month/six weeks to try and rectify that, by which point you are already through the first couple of races.
“It wasn’t really until Barcelona that we were able to introduce the first sort of package addressing those issues, and that we really started to make progress.
“I think we are going in a good direction. We’ve put constant progress on the car since the Barcelona race and we’ll keep pushing all the way through the season.”
Asked how much the French-made engine has improved since the start of the season, he answered: “I’d say two tenths.
“By Renault’s own estimates they are behind their targets, but they are working very hard to catch up,” said Horner.
But other factors may also have been in play, like Ferrari’s supposed ‘oil in fuel’ technology trick, and the fact a clever Red Bull suspension system was banned.
Referring to the oil trick, Horner said: “It definitely benefited those who had it, but it wasn’t Renault. Now we’re all back on the same page.”
As for the suspension, he added: “We tested the system but it didn’t give us enough to justify the additional weight, so I don’t think that hurt us at all.”