RED Bull believe their lack of competitiveness in the power-centric Belgian GP justifies their switch to Honda power next year.
Although Max Verstappen finished third, to the delight of the Dutch fans packed around the Spa circuit, over half a minute separated the lead Red Bull from race winner Sebastian Vettel.
“We need to make a step,” observed Red Bull boss Christian Horner. “You can see the gap (to Mercedes and Ferrari) is significant.”
But to the encouragement of Red Bull, junior outfit Toro Rosso, who switched to Honda at the start of the year, had a positive day, with Pierre Gasly finishing ninth.
Gasly has already been confirmed as a 2019 Red Bull driver, taking the seat of the Renault-bound Daniel Ricciardo.
“Honda are making great progress,” added Horner. “They are scoring points regularly and you can see they are making headway.”
Monza, F1’s next stop, is another power-hungry circuit which is unlikely to suit the Red Bull package.
As a result, the team are already planning to effectively write off next week’s race in order to maximise their potential for the Singapore GP, where they hope to challenge the frontrunners.
“We will try and get ourselves on the best footing,” said Horner.
“Daniel Ricciardo will be taking an engine penalty next weekend and Max will be taking his third unit there, hopefully without penalty.
“We will be trying to get ourselves in the best position we can going to Singapore which is probably our next big hope of challenging Ferrari and Mercedes.”
VETTEL POWERS UP TITLE CHARGE
Sebastian Vettel believes Ferrari now definitively have a strong car for all circuits after claiming their first win at the Belgian GP this decade in emphatic style.
Lewis Hamilton conceded Mercedes were “blitzed” by the impressive pace of their rivals in defeat at Spa, while Toto Wolff said the reigning champions “weren’t good enough”.
Ferrari’s challenge last year was hindered by fluctuating form from circuit to circuit but Vettel is sure they have finally cracked the challenge of producing a versatile car.
“We have a good car that seems to work everywhere,” a jubilant Vettel told Sky F1 after cutting Hamilton’s title lead to 17 points with eight rounds to go.
“I don’t think the car was there right from the beginning, but we’ve got it to the point where it works everywhere and now we’re competitive.
“We had our deficits last year. We had a car that worked well on twisty tracks where a lot of downforce was required, but we were missing out on tracks where the car needed to be more efficient like here, Silverstone and a couple of other tracks.
“This year the car seems to be more robust in that regard and seems to work everywhere. We improved the package as well, so we’ve done a step forward.”
Ferrari and Vettel have now won five races this season, already as many as last year, and ended several long victory droughts in the process.
They won in Canada for the first time since 2004, Britain for the first time since 2011 and have now ended a barren run at Spa which stretched back to 2009.
“It’s key to have a car that works everywhere because that’s been our weaknesses, but we’ve tackled it fairly well,” added Vettel.
VETTEL PAYS FERRARI ENGINE TRIBUTE
While improved aerodynamics have helped Ferrari’s quest to topple Mercedes on faster, flowing circuits, consistent engine gains have proved critical with the Scuderia’s power unit now considered the most powerful in Formula 1.
And in a telling tribute following their latest engine upgrade at Spa, Vettel said in a Twitter video: “For everyone in the team and especially our engine department, a great boost to hear so many positives about our new engine and our upgrade. Everyone has been working really hard.
“Hopefully we can now carry that momentum and speed into the next race to Monza.”
Ferrari have not won any of the last eight Italian GPs at their home circuit, with Mercedes undefeated at Monza since 2013.
“I hope it [victory at Spa] helps boost the race at Monza and for it to stay on the calendar for a long time, as I’ve heard some rumours,” said Vettel, with the event not yet thought to be sold out.
“Looking forward to going to Italy as obviously I spend some time there, but racing in Italy is special for us. It should be a lot of fun.”
This article originally appeared on Sky Sports and was reproduced with permission.