MILTON KEYNES (Reuters) - Red Bull have to be considered contenders for both Formula One championships this season, team boss Christian Horner said on Tuesday.
The former world champions are third overall, 58 points adrift of leaders Ferrari in the constructors’ standings, after nine races.
They are the only team to have won grands prix with both their drivers this season, however, and are matching Ferrari and champions Mercedes with three wins.
“I think we definitely have an outside chance,” Horner, whose team won four titles in a row between 2010 and 2013 and before a change in the engine regulations, told reporters at the team’s factory ahead of the British Grand Prix.
“Our Achilles Heel has been not scoring with both cars, either through reliability or other incidents.
“Formula One is full of ifs, buts and maybes but if you look at the positions we were in, and should have been in, then we should be leading the championship today.”
Australian Daniel Ricciardo is 50 points behind Ferrari’s leader Sebastian Vettel but won in China and Monaco.
Dutch team mate Max Vertappen, triumphant in Austria last weekend, is three points behind Ricciardo and has scored as many points as Mercedes’ reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton from the last five races.
Neither of the Red Bulls finished in Bahrain and Azerbaijan, while Mercedes had a double retirement in Austria that ended Hamilton’s record run of 33 successive races in the points. Ferrari have so far avoided such a wipeout.
Horner said Red Bull were closing the gap and there was still a long way to go, with circuits like Hungary and Singapore playing to the team’s strengths.
“One of our major assets is that as a race team we are extremely versatile and have been very creative on strategy,” he added, a dig at Mercedes who have been denied at least two victories by strategy blunders.
“I think there is a chance in both championships and we certainly haven’t written anything off at this point in the year.”
Red Bull are switching from Renault to Honda power next year but Horner said the French manufacturer remained fully committed.
“I think the fact that we aren’t a competitor to Renault, of their own team, actually helps their purpose by having an engine winning races. And it gives them a barometer of where they need to improve,” he said.
The Renault works team are fourth overall but a hefty 92 points behind Red Bull.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Editing by William Maclean