Christian Horner believes that the results of the Qatar Grand Prix last week could play a huge role in deciding the Championship.
The inaugural Qatar GP did not go off to a good start for the Red Bull team. Max Verstappen topped the charts in the first practice session but was nowhere near the Mercedes cars thereafter. Lewis Hamilton outqualified the Red Bull driver by 4 tenths of a second, the largest gap between the two drivers this season.
Verstappen was due to start from 2nd but met with a grid penalty due to ‘failing to slow down under double yellow flag conditions’. This pushed him down to 7th place.
The Dutchman put in a good performance, finishing 2nd and also clinching the fastest lap. However, Hamilton won the race comfortably and cut down Verstappen’s lead at the top of the standings to just 8 points.
Drivers: EIGHT points apart
Constructors: FIVE points apart
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 22, 2021
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes that this result could have a massive impact in deciding the Championship with just 2 races to go.
“It was a big day,” Horner said. “They’re all big days at the moment. We’re sort of back to where we were in Austin, we’ve just been around the world to do it points-wise.”
The car came alive during the race, says the Red Bull boss
Finishing 2nd was not what Red Bull wanted coming into the weekend in Qatar. However, taking the grid penalty and a significantly faster Mercedes car into consideration, Horner felt Verstappen did a massive job.
The 24 year old had a perfect start when the lights went out. He managed to overtake 3 cars going into the first corner on the first lap itself. He then made up two more places to finish P2 as he took the chequered flag.
“I think Max’s recovery today and his first lap was stunning,” Horner explained.
Top of the standings despite P2 in Qatar 🏆
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 21, 2021
“Mercedes had a quicker car than us with Lewis today, but we were able to come back at them a little bit in the second and third stints.
“The car started to come alive. Max’s first few corners were sensational.” he added.
Horner says that the Red Bull had a competitive straight line speed in Qatar
The team principal was quick to mention that Mercedes were still miles ahead in terms of pace compared to them. It was impossible for Max Verstappen to catch them.
Still, he was ‘encouraged’ by how the car performed under the lights last Sunday.
“There’s just one corner here that they were quicker,” Horner said. “It’s Turn 6. Two tenths every lap, and it’s a pretty straightforward corner, so we’ve got a bit of homework to understand why we lost time in that corner.” said Christian Horner
Happy with P2️⃣ and the fastest lap 👊 Despite a really good start, the win was out of reach, but we maximized our race result. Thanks to a good strategy, we scored 19 points today. We will keep fighting to the end 💪 🇶🇦 #QatarGP pic.twitter.com/YnCL44O50x
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) November 21, 2021
“But our straight-line speed was competitive. It was pretty much line-on-line, so that was good to see.”
“I think that the fact that Max was able to get the fastest lap before bolting on that set of Soft tyres was also really encouraging.” he concluded.
Red Bull as a team had a good outing in Lusail last week. Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez recovered well, finishing 4th despite starting outside the top 10. The Milton-Keynes based team are now just 4 points behind Mercedes in the Constructor’s standings.