Red Bull Formula One team have admitted that they feared not even making the top five in the constructors championship, despite easily securing second place with two Grand Prix victories.
Red Bull entered the season on the back foot after messy engine politics with Renault towards the latter stages of the 2015 season, and the team expected to be trailing junior team Toro Rosso in the inaugural Australian Grand Prix.
Red Bull’s season has, however, exceeded the bosses expectations; the team scored their first podium in just the third round of the championship with Daniil Kvyat, and got their first victory of the season during the fifth round of the season with Max Verstappen.
The team have been Mercedes’ nearest rivals throughout the second half of the F1 season, and under various occasions kept Mercedes honest at the front; the team, arguably had the performance edge in Monaco, where Ricciardo claimed the teams one and only pole position of the season, however a messy pit-stop handed the victory to Lewis Hamilton.
Given how dull the outlook had looked pre-season, Christian Horner has admitted the team thought finishing in the top 5 in the constructors championship would be a challenge.
Following their successful 2016 season, Red Bull now head to the 2017 Formula One season aiming to challenge Mercedes for both F1 titles, boosted by the regulation changes.
“This year has been a great year for the team,” said team principal Horner, quoted on Autosport.
“We came into the season with very low expectations, being in the top five in the constructors’ looked like it was going to be a challenge.
“So to have come away having finished second in the constructors’ championship, third in the drivers’ championship [through Daniel Ricciardo], having won two grands prix, a pole position in Monte Carlo, 16 podiums, having had Ricciardo complete every racing lap of the season with 100% reliability has been an enormous progression from 12 months ago.”