Christian Horner says Red Bull should be leading F1 championship

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Verstappen, Red Bull get it right to win in Austria (1:37)

Jonathan Legard reflects on another impressive Max Verstappen performance, as he creeps back into the title picture. (1:37)

Christian Horner believes Red Bull would currently be leading the Formula One world championship if it hadn't dropped so many points in the opening nine races of 2018.

Red Bull claimed a shock win at its home race in Austria, with Max Verstappen capitalising on Mercedes' misfortune and a Sebastian Vettel grid penalty for his first victory of the year. That moved Verstappen just three points behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who in turn is 50 behind championship leader Vettel. Red Bull is third in the constructors' championship, 58 points adrift of Ferrari.

Although the team has scored three opportunistic wins, it has also left plenty of points on the table. On top of Max Verstappen's errors and mistakes at the start of the year, its drivers collided in Azerbaijan while running fourth and fifth, putting both out of the race, while Ricciardo retired early in the Bahrain Grand Prix with car trouble when well placed to challenge the leaders.

When asked if Red Bull is a title contender this year, Horner said: "I think that we definitely have an outside chance.

"Nine races, three victories, the same amount of wins as Ferrari and Mercedes. Our Achilles heel has been not scoring with both cars, either through reliability our other incidents.

"Formula One's full of ifs, buts and maybes, but if you look at the positions that we were in and should have been in then we should be leading the championship today.But the scoreboard is slightly different to that."

Despite still being hampered by its Renault power unit, which has failed to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari, Red Bull has still been able to stay competitive this season. Horner says the team is being realistic about where it can compete this season but has no doubts it can stay in the hunt.

"We've closed the gap over the last few races, and there's still a long, long way to go. What are there, 12 races left? So I think you'd have to consider us as an outside contender. And certainly our determination within the team is to keep pushing and try and ensure that we're getting both cars ahead of our opponents.

"There are some circuits coming up that should play to our strengths, places like Hungary and Singapore. There are circuits that will not be so good for us but I thin one of our major assets is that as a race team we are extremely versatile and we've been very creative on strategy, pit stops, pit work... As a team, the team's working extremely well.

"So I think there is a chance in both championships and we certainly haven't written anything off at this point in the year."