JANUARY 16, 2017

Renault will help Red Bull close gap says Mateschitz

Renault will help Red Bull "get closer" to Mercedes in 2017.

Renault will help Red Bull get closer to Mercedes in 2017.

That is the claim of Dietrich Mateschitz, the low-profile billionaire founder and owner of Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso.

After a 2015 falling out, Red Bull's relationship with Renault improved last year to the point that the main team passed Ferrari in the championship and a switch to Renault power for Toro Rosso was agreed.

"Renault brought new, ambitious and above all competent people on board for 2016, and there was much progress with (Mario) Illien," Mateschitz told Speed Week.

"I expect for 2017 that we will get the power to get closer to Mercedes," he said. "We want to be absolutely competitive and to attack Mercedes with victories."

Mateschitz said he is more than happy with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen at the wheel, and confirmed that when Nico Rosberg retired, the pair were targeted by Mercedes.

"It was discussed between Helmut Marko and Niki Lauda," Mateschitz confirmed, "but not seriously. Everyone knew that our drivers would not be available.

"No one came to me and asked for a release," he added.

As for Toro Rosso's drivers, Mateschitz commented: "Carlos Sainz has developed strongly, while with Daniil Kvyat, we are guilty of relying on him too much.

"Pierre Gasly will work as a junior substitute driver and work a lot in the simulator."