Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes outscoring Ferrari in the remainder of the 2017 Formula One season is a "realistic and aggressive target" for his team.
The Milton Keynes-based outfit sits 173 points behind Mercedes and trails Ferrari by 134 with nine races to go. Red Bull lagged behind its rivals in the opening races of the season -- having failed to capitalise on F1's aerodynamic regulation overhaul -- while correlation problems with Red Bull's windtunnel led the team "astray", setting it back by around two months.
Red Bull has made incremental gains on Mercedes and Ferrari since it introduced a major upgrade package at the Spanish Grand Prix, which boosted the team and enabled it to enjoy a run of five consecutive podium finishes, including a race win in Baku. Though Horner admits Mercedes and Ferrari are too far ahead in the championship standings, he is confident Red Bull is now in a strong position to challenge the Scuderia on a more regular basis.
"From a championship point of view I think the gap between us and Ferrari and Mercedes is too big to claw back," Horner said. "I would like to at least outscore Ferrari in the second half of the year. I think if we can get into a situation to challenge for podiums and the higher places on the podium in the races at the end of the year, that is a realistic and an aggressive target for us."
Despite a run of poor reliability and an intra-team collision between Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Horner feels his team's recent performances show it is making enough progress to keep up with the Italian outfit.
"We're sitting here, six podiums and a grand prix victory. We're further away than we want to be from Mercedes and Ferrari. But if I look at the last four races [before Hungary], Ferrari have only outscored us by two points.
"We haven't had 100 percent reliability in those races so I think, particularly over the last few races we've made good ground. I think we are going in a good direction. We've put constant progress on the car since the Barcelona race and we'll keep pushing all the way through the season."