Red Bull is still benefiting from upgrades to its Renault engines despite having confirmed its plans to switch to Honda power for the 2019 Formula 1 season.
Team boss Christian Horner has confirmed the French manufacturer has continued to feed Red Bull updates rather than scaling back its involvement with the team ahead of the impending split.
“I think the fact that we aren’t a competitor to Renault or their own team, it actually helps their purpose by having an engine winning races and it gives them a barometer of where they need to improve,” explained Horner.
“From the initial disappointment from Renault that there was after informing them of the decision, we’ve actually seen a reverse.
“They’ve introduced a qualifying mode for (the Austrian GP) weekend and they’re introducing another fuel upgrade for us in a couple of race’s time.
“We’ll then have a C-spec engine coming for around Monza, so we haven’t noticed any withdrawal of performance from Renault.
“And, if it gives them the opportunity to get their board more enthused about Formula 1, then it might actually help them.”
Horner did admit that Red Bull will be forced to take grid penalties later in the season as it takes new engine components.
The timing of those penalties will be designed to avoid impacting events where the team is expected to perform well.
“Hopefully not this weekend, but probably we would likely incur a penalty around Hockenheim time, as we would want to avoid Hungary,” Horner explained.
“Hungary is a key opportunity for us as it’s a low power dependent circuit to hopefully be in contention for a win.”
Between Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen the team has won three races this year, the same number as Ferrari and Mercedes.
Red Bull currently sits third in the constructors’ championship, 58 points behind Ferrari at the top of the standings, but Horner believes his team could have been leading.
“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,” Horner said.
“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 there’s still a long long way to go.
“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.
“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.”