Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2018

Horner backs Verstappen’s explanation for Austrian GP row

2018 Austrian Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner echoed Max Verstappen’s explanation for the dispute between the two Red Bull drivers in qualifying for today’s Austrian Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo accused the team of not operating a fair system as he was unable to benefit from a slipstream from Verstappen’s car during the session. Verstappen said it is the team’s usual policy to rotate which driver leads the cars out of the pits during qualifying.

Horner gave the same explanation as Verstappen. “We have a very simple policy, that’s operated for the last seven years, [that] we alternate from weekend to weekend who drives out of the garage first,” he told Sky. “It’s the only way to keep it as scrupulously fair from circuit to circuit.

“So this weekend was Daniel’s time to drive out of the garage first ahead of Max. Obviously he felt Max might be benefiting from that. So that’s why he decided to back up a bit.”

Ricciardo was heard being told by his race engineer to increase his pace when he slowed at one point during qualifying. “Get on with it,” he was told. “We’ll get a go on the next one.”

Horner insisted the qualifying policy is clear to both drivers.

“The drivers know explicitly every weekend it alternates,” he said. “Last weekend Max drove out first, Daniel would have followed him. next weekend it will be the other way around.

“Even in the debrief from weekend to weekend there’s who talks first. It’s the way to keep it as scrupulously fair as we can.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on “Horner backs Verstappen’s explanation for Austrian GP row”

  1. Curious now how this policy benefits drivers. Is there a correlation between going out second and qualifying ahead?

    1. the leading car can offer a slip stream / drag reduction effect down the straights for the following car. It can be worth a tenth or two depending on the track. If there is a long straight then the benefit is greater.

      Whoever goes first misses out on this trick.

      1. Makes you wonder how much faster VER was than RIC in Paul Ricard

    2. @hahostolze I think at some point Hamilton even elected to go first when he actually had the right to go behind, because Rosberg was causing yellow flags (ending Hamilton’s Q3 fast lap attempts).

      Think Mercedes had a different system. It was something like, the driver who was fastest in Q1 (or FP3?) got to choose if he wanted to go first or second.

      1. I don’t think Daniel wants this rule from Mercedes!

      2. Pretty sure that at Mercedes they took turns CHOOSING whether to go first or second @patrickl

    3. I don’t get it. Yes, a slipstream gives you a tenth or two. But in the turns, running on dirty air will probably take twice as much away, right?

      1. Yeah. It makes me wonder too. Maybe Red Bull is in different level of understanding their own dirty air. Maybe that’s why there always a good fight between them two.

        This should be considered next time when we compared their drivers qualy performance. It looks like there’s a significant benefits to Red Bull driver who follows its teammate.

      2. I think in Monza it will help though with the long straights and this race Daniel has the tow of Max!

      3. @alonshow it depends on how close you are, if you take a somewhat distant tow you will get an advantage on the straights but not drop time in the corners, too close and you are right, you will start to lose time overall.

        1. @tdm: Makes sense. But still, this year the drivers say that they start to feel the loss of grip as soon as they get within 2 seconds of the guy in front. And from what I’ve seen so far, a slipstream only works when the two cars are roughly within a second of each other, right?

    4. If it has an advantage then alternate each race is a fair thing to do. If it doesn’t have an advantage then it is fair to do it as well so it ticks all the boxes :)

      1. i meant to say: If it has an advantage then alternate each race is a fair thing to do. If it doesn’t have an advantage then it can’t hurt to alternate each race so it ticks all the boxes :)

  2. A big story out of nothing.

    1. @jerejj I’s baffling how it upset Ricciardo so much though.

      1. @patrickl Yes indeed.

  3. Translation…Daniel, it’s time for you to leave.

    1. There are rumours he will resign and will get the same deal as Max .. same salary etc .. i think it is fair .. no number 1 or 2 like Ferrari!

  4. Maybe I’m looking too much into this, but could the circuit length play a part in this? Being such a short track, it would allow Verstappen to start his lap a lot closer to Ricciardo then usual, because by the time he catches Ricciardo, he won’t be disadvantaged by dirty air (because the laps already finished). Unlike Paul Ricard, sure, Daniel could start his lap right up behind Max, but buy 3/4 of the lap is done, he’d be too close, and the turbulent air would start to effect him. Like I said, maybe looking into it too much, but it’s just odd that Daniel would complain about something like this. They both know the rule, they’ve followed it the whole time they’ve been at the team. So why all of a sudden claim it’s unfair? Surely there must be more of an advantage at this track compared to others.

  5. I think it is fair to alternate each race. Now Daniel will get a tow from Max in Monza where a tow really counts and in Hungary where RBR has a chance to win the race allthough i think that Hungary has not many long straights so it may not be that much of an advantage there! Silverstone (tow Daniel), Germany (tow Max), Hungary (tow Daniel), Belgium (tow Max) and Monza (tow Daniel) …

  6. The real question here is if this is Red Bull policy, why did they ask Max to overtake Daniel and run in front to give him a tow? That was obviously going against their own procedures.

    1. I wondered about the same thing. Could it be that it was DR’s race engineer making the radio request to Max? It obviously wasn’t someone who understands their fair method. DR claims he could have made himself more clear in the meeting ahead of quali, but I’m sure they would have just clarified to him whose turn it was for the day, not for the moment.

  7. because they were running out of time…

    1. And Max has never been running out of time when running ahead of Daniel? Max is right to be annoyed by the instruction.

    2. Plus Horner agreed with Max, so why did the whole thing happen anyway, did Horner know? Curious.

      1. ‘Tis…I’m going to put it down to confusion on DR’s part, his side, about how the system works. I’m sure that’s why Max thinks he and DR will be all good…Max will be like, give your head a shake DR, and they’ll quickly get past it. It seems like a duh moment for DR, nothing more…unless he and his side chose to make something more of it that is. Certainly Max and Christian have said all they need to.

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