Christian Horner confident Renault engine won't hold Red Bull back in 2017

Christian Horner believes Red Bull's engine supplier Renault has the potential to close the gap to Mercedes to a manageable amount next year.

After winning four titles in a row with Renault power between 2010 and 2013, new engine regulations in 2014 saw Mercedes replace Red Bull as the team to beat in Formula One. Renault has slowly clawed back the deficit it had to Mercedes at the start of 2014, but is still short on power compared to F1's class-leading engine.

Red Bull and Renault nearly parted ways in 2015 following a public war of words over the performance of the power unit. But Horner says that acted as the impetus for change and now the French manufacturer is on target to close the gap to the same level it had pre-2014.

"Things have changed internally on the engine side [at Renault]," he said. "After the difficulties we had last year, that was the catalyst for positive change. That change has happened and the benefit we are starting to see through the course of the year.

"As long as that development continues then hopefully it will put us into an area within the next 12 months of where we were with the V8s -- within a couple of percent of the best engine."

With new aerodynamic regulations coming into force next year, Red Bull has been tipped for a return to the top. However, the new regulations mean the cars will be producing more drag, meaning engine performance is likely to remain a key factor for success.

"Changing the rules shakes things up a bit," Horner said. "I think that a change in regulations presents a great opportunity for us. We have a strong team, a strong driver pairing and we have all the ingredients to put a strong campaign together for next year. Hopefully we'll close that gap down to the dominance we have seen with Mercedes."

And Horner is not concerned that the return of Renault's works team, which is in the process of rebuilding the former Lotus outfit, will not have a negative impact on Red Bull's engine supply.

"As far as their own team is concerned we are a great benchmark. We have the guarantee of absolute parity and setting that benchmark is great for them to be able to evaluate themselves. They are in a building process where they will have an immediate reference as to what their engine is capable of."