Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner used Mercedes' domination during Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to once again highlight how engines are too influential in determining the performance on the track.
The Brackley outfit scored arguably their most comfortable one-two of the season in the final race at Yas Marina, as a duel between Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton saw the Silver Arrows push each other throughout, pulling out over 20 seconds to Sebastian Vettel in third in the process.
When analysing where their advantage came from, looking at the timings, it was very clear to Horner that just one change was enough to alter the balance in their favour in a significant way.
"Mercedes were in a class of their own," the Red Bull boss said. "If you listened to their radio content, when they turned the engine up, you only have to look in the middle sector – they go half a second quicker or slower, depending on which engine mode they choose.
"Hats off to them, they are doing a great job in that area, but engine performance is a key differentiator."
Engine reliability has been the main problem for the Anglo-Austrian team with supplier Renault having to impose restrictions on performance and parts having to be mixed and matched in the final races.
Given the limitations then, Horner was quite pleased by the speed his drivers had even if the final results were far from what they hoped.
"Both drivers had sensible pace compared to the Ferraris today, Daniel [Ricciardo] was able to go with Sebastian relatively comfortably, and Max [Verstappen] spent the entire race looking at Kimi’s gearbox," he stated.
"We lost Daniel on Lap 18, 19 after he felt a funny vibration from the front of the car. He thought it was a puncture, pitted last minute, which the guys scrambled well to get the car turned around without losing a position but then it became quickly evident that it was a hydraulic issue, at that point, we had to retire the car.
"Max did everything that he could to put pressure on Kimi, but getting within a second here, particularly with the cars under these regulations and tires and so on, this circuit layout just does not lean itself towards that. Unfortunately, he was not able to do anything about Kimi despite being quicker."
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