Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Only Mercedes were faster than Red Bull in Spain – Horner

2019 Spanish Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says his team moved ahead of Ferrari to be the closest challengers to Mercedes in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen finished third behind the two Mercedes and also rose to third in the championship behind Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

Horner said the team had “certainly” demonstrated its superiority to Ferrari at the Circuit de Catalunya.

“We got the absolute maximum out of the car today,” he said. “I think Max’s first lap was outstanding. We had an aggressive strategy but we had the pace obviously to beat the Ferraris today.

“Considering where we were in the pre-season test nine weeks ago I think to have caught that gap, to have put that performance on the car, is really encouraging and obviously now we have to try to focus on diminishing the gap further to Mercedes.”

The team began the weekend off the pace of Ferrari, but made consistent gains since the first practice sessions.

“Obviously we had a lot of data to look at on Friday night,” said Horner in response to a question from RaceFans. “The updates that we brought to the car this weekend have worked well.

“It’s now a matter of digesting the information from the race and building on that vein of development.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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14 comments on “Only Mercedes were faster than Red Bull in Spain – Horner”

  1. We all knew you saying this only to make sure Max didn’t invoke performance clause, Horner…

    1. Even if such clause exists (though doubtful), where would he go?

      Ferrari? Locked out.
      Mercedes? If Valtteri doesn’t jump ship in some crazy move – also locked out.

      Other teams?
      Poor Daniel already did “Alonso-McLaren” move with Renault (they don’t look like a team on a Championship winning road), McLaren is using Renault’s engines (we all know how Renault and Max don’t like each other), Mercedes customers are not showing any signs of being actually helped by such nice engines.
      Alfa Romeo? To pair with Kimi? Fire and Ice? :) That will be Something to watch))

      1. @dallein Next year to Ferrari or Mercedes. Summer time is when those negotiations start to happen.

        1. As I already mentioned – they are both locked out.
          Only Valtteri’s seat is unconfirmed, but unless he quits to some other team (highly unlikely), Mercedes would be crazy to bring in Max and cause all the chaos for the final year before 2021-unknown.

          1. Why would Max want to go anywhere?

          2. And especially, why would verstappen want to go to ferrari? That team completely lost it.

  2. I would not exactly say they are faster, but they operate better than Ferrari, and they capitalized on yet another Ferrari’s hesitations with team orders, and were somewhat helped by another pit stop of Charles (who would not have stopped otherwise… probably).

    P.S. Having written that I am now more puzzled by Charles’s pitstop… was it a move by Ferrari to let Vettel forward? (with anticipation that Max would have overtaken Charles anyway)

    1. @dallein It is my feeling that presence of a safety car changed Ferrari’s plans for Charles. He was ahead of Max before 2nd stop, and track position was quite important. With 6th place further down the road he could afford to try to keep Max behind and worst case he’d lose that place and be behind Vet anyway. Then safety car happened, many changed tires, were bunched up, the risk of losing positions if tires didn’t hold up was much greater. And so they played safe.

    2. @dallein, I agree that, operationally, Red Bull were better – when you look at the times, in the first stint Leclerc, once allowed past Vettel, first matched and then began beating Verstappen’s times. In fact, I suspect that might be what triggered Verstappen’s first stop – with Leclerc starting to catch up, there was a risk of being undercut if they left him out for a few more laps.

      Similarly, during the second stint, there were brief moments when Vettel seemed to have better pace than Verstappen as soon as he was past Leclerc – Ferrari had comparable, and at times, superior pace to Red Bull, but it seemed to be the case that they gave Red Bull every opportunity to create a gap to them.

  3. I don’t think that Red Bull is better than Ferrari, but Verstappen is certainly faster than what the Ferrari strategists can get out of either one of their drivers.

    1. :-) Looks like that is closer to the reality than what Horner sees yeah @coldfly.

      I’d say there is not much between the Red Bull and the Ferrari currently. But when they throw away valuable time with deliberations over team strategy and aren’t sure which tyres are the better onces, nor how long they will last, Red Bull do show that they are more “on the ball” to give their driver (their top driver) what he needs to achieve.

  4. GtisBetter (@)
    12th May 2019, 22:03

    So you are saying friday practise was invaluable?

  5. Only other point to add is Shumachers record.

    Ultimately the teams are competing for their place in F1 history. If Mercedes are to have a chance
    at Shumachers record, they can’t keep ‘sharing’ the wins.

    Hamilton represent’s Mercedes best chance of securing that place in History.

    1. They don’t need that, hamilton still isn’t that old, and will most likely drive for another few years, which would make it realistic to get enough wins to get there long term even without a dominant but simply with a strong car, example mercedes 2017 or 2018, or mclaren 2012 since as a strong driver he will win a handful of races anytime he gets a good car, plus there’s more races now and drivers start younger and can race more years, so beating such records becomes relative, example: who’s better between fangio and schumacher? Debatable, but could go either way, if you just look at the win count you’d have to say schumacher is almost 4x better than fangio, which even as a schumacher fan I’m gonna disagree with.

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