Red Bull Formula 1 team principal Christian Horner says he “cannot believe” Mercedes will see out the 2021 season without adding new parts to its car, despite Toto Wolff’s claims at the Red Bull Ring.
Lewis Hamilton said that Mercedes “really needs an upgrade of some sort” in the aftermath of his team’s Styrian Grand Prix defeat but team boss Wolff said shortly afterwards that no further development for its W12 challenger is on the cards.
Mercedes will instead focus on optimising the package as its development work is now completely on the all-new rules come into force for the 2022 season.
Conversely, Red Bull is still updating its RB16B and has further development planned – and Horner expects the same will really be the case for Mercedes as well.
Horner said: “We know Toto loves to throw the light somewhere else.
“I cannot believe they’ll go through the rest of this year without putting a single component on the car.
“All we can do is focus on our own job. It’s a balancing act between this year and next year but if that means we’ve got to work a bit harder we’re fully up for it.”
After years of failing to fight Mercedes in the V6 turbo-hybrid era, Red Bull was widely tipped before the start of the season to finally challenge this season.
Horner believes the team is reaping the rewards for starting the year strongly “for the first time in quite a while” and then continuing to improve the car.
“We’ve managed to optimise that and tune it,” he said.
“You’re at the top of the curve with these cars and into marginal gains. When you look at the new car for next year, every time it goes through a development cycle it’s significant steps.
“It’s getting the balance right between marginal gains for this year and big steps for next year. But that’s no different to how it’s been in the past.”
Verstappen’s victory at Red Bull’s home track was the team’s fourth in a row, a run in which Verstappen has taken the lead in the drivers’ championship and Red Bull has moved ahead of Mercedes in the constructors’ fight.
Horner believes his team is “performing incredibly well” but underlined the need not to let up just because it seems to have established a small advantage.
“We’ve got to keep turning the screw, keep our heads down, keep doing what we’re doing, keep doing the basics well,” he said.
“To have won the last four races across the types of circuits we’ve had is the best run we’ve had since 2013.
“We’re back here next weekend [for the second part of F1’s back-to-back at the Red Bull Ring] and we saw last year that even though you had two races at the same circuit the second race can be quite different to the first – track conditions, weather, etc.
“We’ve just got to take each race one by one and try to optimise our performance.”