It’s maximum pressure at Red Bull Racing, with the squad pushing hard for 2020, and a chance to close the gap to its rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.
That pressure extends, of course, to its power unit partner Honda, which has horsepower to find over the European winter…
Honda and Renault are thought to be around 30 to 45 brake horsepower behind grunt leader Ferrari, and 10 to 15 behind Mercedes… a sizeable gap requiring a lot of work and innovation…
…especially on fuel, which is becoming a crucial part of power unit gains, Honda’s new-spec engine for Japan designed around Mobil’s latest brew. A previous iteration helping the team win at a hot Austrian Red Bull Ring.
SOUNDBITE (English) CHRISTIAN HORNER,
TEAM PRINCIPAL, RED BULL RACING:
“The product played a key part in our success and victory at the weekend with all temperatures being under control, performance being there through those [ExxonMobil] fuel and lubricants at all times during the Grand Prix."
The squad must also make a choice on who will partner Max Verstappen, with all signs pointing to incumbent Alex Albon… who was thrust into the top seat from Belgium onwards.
SOUNDBITE (English) ALEXANDER ALBON,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“First year in Formula 1 and then being in the big team, that's obviously I wouldn't say expectation, just you obviously are with a team which have a lot of previous history success, world championships as well. It was a bit nerve wracking but actually the team have been really good to me.”
Albon impressed in Japan, setting the same time as Verstappen in Q3, a 1:27.851… the first time this year the Dutchman has been challenged so closely by a teammate in the final section of qualifying.
Albon going on to finish fourth for his best-ever career result…and equal-best from a Thai driver, matching Prince Bira.
His Suzuka showing likely ruling Pierre Gasly out from a Red Bull Racing return, as the squad charges toward maximum performance… on the road to F1 2020.