Red Bull confirms upgrades both to car and Honda engine for Austria

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Red Bull has confirmed three races worth of upgrades will be on the RB16 along with Honda's Spec 2 engine in Austria.

Despite the new Formula 1 season being delayed by almost four months due to Covid-19, many still expect the Milton Keynes-based outfit to be the main challenger to Mercedes when the action gets underway in Spielberg this weekend.

And though Red Bull, along with the other nine teams, has had to observe a massive 63-day factory shutdown, that hasn't stopped them from pushing as hard as possible to bring all the performance they can for the company's home race.

"There would have been updates at the first European races at Zandvoort and Barcelona and there would have been further updates for Montreal," team boss Christian Horner revealed.

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"So, of course, all the updates that were in the pipeline prior to the shutdown, plus whatever we’ve learned subsequent to the shutdown, have been implemented to the car so there are subtle revisions all over the car as part of that update process which I’m sure the other front running teams have also done.

"We also have an engine upgrade as we essentially introduce what would have been engine number two, which becomes our first engine.

"So in all aspects of the car there has been an awful lot of work go into and it’s been a race against the clock to get those updates onto the car since reopening the factory at the beginning of June."

Commenting on the expected performance of the RB16, technical director Pierre Wache is confident it will be a step forward from 2019..

"The RB16 is clearly a step forward compared to what we saw last year, and the development rate is still there, so I’m happy with what I’ve seen," he said.

"I cannot guarantee that it’s enough to beat the others, but that’s part of our job. We are a big team, the expectation is very high and we are expected to win, so we are doing everything we can to achieve that."

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As it is, the performance of Honda may well be crucial to whether Red Bull can put up a season-long title challenge against Mercedes, and along with the update, the relationship between the two partners has also improved.

“As we head into our second year of our Honda relationship it feels much more integrated within the team,” added Horner. “We enjoyed a great debut season with Honda winning three races, and of course now we’re looking to build on that.

“They’re ambitious, they share the same ambitions that we do, they’ve been working tremendously hard during the off-season and of course come into this year with higher expectations.

“It’s a key part of the car and a key partner for us as we move forward and look to mount a challenge for championships in the future.”