Ayrton Senna, McLaren, Donington Park, 1993

German GP “thriller” was like Donington 1993 – Horner

2019 German Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner described last weekend’s German Grand Prix as a “thriller” on a par with F1’s celebrated 1993 race at Donington Park.

Ayrton Senna’s win in mixed conditions at the Leicestershire circuit’s only world championship race 26 years ago has long been regarded one of F1’s most dramatic races.

But Horner believes Max Verstappen’s drive to victory at the Hockenheimring last weekend, in a race of similarly unpredictable conditions which saw a total of 78 pit stops, bears comparison. “It was an amazing race,” he said. “It was a bit like Donington 1993 I think.”

Both Red Bull drivers suffered poor starts to the race, which Horner confirmed was due to engine mapping problems.

“The start was horrible,” he said. “Both cars had an issue at the start. We need to look into that. They both held their heads at that point.”

Horner praised Verstappen’s tyre management in the opening stint on intermediate tyres. “We knew that this track’s pretty aggressive on the left-hand front and it was a question of really managing that tyre and he did a fantastic job at doing that.

“I think that the combination of him working with his race engineer, keeping him briefed what was going on, he was still able to put Valtteri [Bottas] under quite a lot of pressure.”

Verstappen had a spin after the team put him on the harder medium compound tyres when the track first became dry enough for slicks.

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“We thought we might be running that tyre to the end of the race and we were quite concerned about the graining on the soft doing that longevity,” explained Horner. “There was some teams that went soft, some didn’t.

Ayrton Senna, McLaren, Donington Park, 1993
1993 European Grand Prix: Senna’s last great race
“And then Max had a spin on his out-lap but he kept it together. With hindsight it wasn’t the right tyre to have put on at that stop. In hindsight that was the only mistake we made today. Then there was a Safety Car and then everybody’s back in for inters.”

However Verstappen moved into the lead after Lewis Hamilton hit a barrier and Bottas’s pit stop was delayed. “From there on I think I looked up and it was only like lap 30 out of 64 and we’d already done three pit stops by that stage.”

In the second half of the race Verstappen was able to switch to the soft tyres and retake his lead. Red Bull avoided bringing him in for a pit stop during the final Safety Car period, when Bottas crashed, because they thought it was too risky.

“He just had a pit stop window in the event of a Safety Car, which came out again. But we decided not to take the risk with the wet pit lane and so on. He was just managing the situation.

“I asked him not to go for the fastest lap which he then took, whilst not abusing the kerbs and anything like that.

“So he just kept his head and managed the car, the tyres. You can hear he was almost like on a Sunday afternoon drive with the dialogue with his engineer. So [it was] a thriller.”

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36 comments on “German GP “thriller” was like Donington 1993 – Horner”

  1. Really…….
    It was a good race but not one driver stood out like Senna did at donington.
    I know Horner would like Max to wear that badge – he awesome but not in a Senna way like Senna wasn’t Mansell, Mansell wasn’t Prost etc etc.

  2. Canadian GP of 2011 comes to mind, in MotoGP BRNO GP of 2017 was a thriller similar to last Sundays German GP.

    1. Canada 2011 had many similarities. It’s one of my all time favourites. Better than Hockenheim this year I think.

      1. I was about to say this, Canada 2011 had everything this race had but also a good fight for the lead. From last to victory, fairytale stuff.

  3. Thriller or not, it was not a race, it was just a lottery with a tad of poor driving and decision making skills.

    1. Racing in the wet needs certain skills and a bit of luck.
      Racing in the dry needs certain skills and a bit of luck.

      I wouldn’t say this was a lottery. Good driving and decision making skills, yes.

    2. When HAM wins a rain race, it is because he is the greatest ever. When HAM messes up, it’s a lottery :)))

      1. Dallein might come across like a Hamilton fanboy at times, but to his credit, on Sunday he said he was disappointed with Lewis’ driving. I might not agree with most of his comments, but I respect his honesty here.

      2. DAllein might come across like a Hamilton fan-b0i at times, but to his credit, on Sunday he said he was disappointed with Lewis’ driving. I might not agree with most of his comments, but I respect his honesty here.

      3. Isn’t this the first time Hamilton hasn’t won a wet race in the hybrid era?

        1. He didn’t win in Hungary 2014.

          1. Though he did start from the pitlane and finished on the podium.

  4. Not even close, Donington was a Senna masterclass, a example of skill from one of, if not, the best driver ever. Nobody shone like that last weekend!

    1. When Verstappen was in first place and had Bottas in 2nd behind him, he comfortably created a 10 second gap before the next SC came out. He was driving better than anybody out there in the race – even with the spin.

      1. Bah. Silverstone 2008, Hamilton finished 1:08.577 seconds ahead of the 2nd place car. :)

    2. Well said, exactly what i thougt. Didnt see spectacular overtaking.

      1. Good driving isn’t spectacular driving.

    3. I agree, totally different. Not in the slightest comparable.. well it was on a track, it was a race and it was raining.. so maybe a bit comparable ;-)

    4. Is was a masterclass in the first few laps, passing everyone in a clean and simple move.
      But as the race itself, it was one of the best barrichello ever drove. Probably even better then Senna but he had to little fuel.
      This years Hockenheim is at least on the same class if not better.
      Legends grow bigger in time . Hockenheim 2019 and Brazil 2017 will grow .

      1. WET tyres, while everyone else are on INT.

      2. Vettel won brazil 2017, hamilton recovered to 4th from the pits, bottas got overtaken at the start and pressured vettel, red bull had no pace, dry race, you must mean 2016!

    5. Agreed…Senna had Traction Control & ABS in that race, and ‘only’ 700odd non boosted or hybrid instant torque horsepower to deal with, not comparable sorry..😁

      1. Senna himself said that Donington was a piece of cake compared to Estoril ‘85. Even if he absolutely dominated everyone on Estoril’s race, he told that driving that Lotus with stick shifter , zero aids and the high powered but erratic torque of the horrendously lagging turbo cars of that era was one of the scariest and hardest drives he ever had.

  5. Never a big Senna fan, but I totally agree with this statement. Last weekends race was awful in my opinion. I could barely watch it. Just a bunch of bad decisions mixed with awful safety car periods.

    1. @darryn How is that different to Donington 1993? Bar Senna, almost every driver made mistakes incorrect tyre choices.

      1. @mashiat Looks like you answered your own question. There was no performance like that on Sunday. Just a race where whoever happened to be in the lead when the laps ran out won. Nothing deliberate about it.

        1. @darryn What’s wrong with unpredictability though? Sure, the driving on display wasn’t the best, but if you want just purely driving displays, then go watch the France race on repeat. What makes F1 interesting is when it’s unpredictable, and yesterday, drivers had more of an impact than normal, as any small mistake had large consequences, while risks could go either way, as it should. It’s like watching a game of football that ends 4-4, where the underdog snatches a point late on. Sure, the defensive displays of both teams were probably poor, but it’s the type of game people remember, as opposed to a boring 2-0 routine victory.

        2. Strange. Ver was leading the race halfway and every SC that followed undid his gap with number two. Every restart he disappeared on the horizon, just to loose his advantage the next SC.
          Without SC he probably would have lapped the field.

          1. Indeed, people saying example that hamilton had huge gap at silverstone 2008, well, safety cars weren’t as common as now 11 years ago, also check brazil 2016, too many safety cars to get decent gap.

  6. Well, i can see why someone would say something like that, but compared to Senna, at that time, with the information the team had back then, it was pure feeling from the driver, and I’d put that so far up the rankings that nothing these days would come close.

    It’s like Russell telling Williams it was ready for slicks, yet the team refusing. in 1993, Williams would’ve listened and gone for it becuase that was the only way to know.

    1. ‘Pure feeling’…….lol yeah pure abs and tcs… 🤪

  7. No it was not. This was nothing like Donington 1993 at all. Senna drove past the whole field including the top cars. Verstappen didn’t overtake anyone.

    This was more like Spain 1996 or Monaco 1996. Won by Schumacher and Panis both by staying on the track with most of the field eliminated. Although in Hockenheim more cars were left, but realistically all competition had gone off.

    Or indeed Canada 2011 as mentioned above. That also had many safety cars bringing back to the front an initially blundering driver and several top cars going of (or rather, being punted off by Button)

    Or in fact also a lot like Hockenheim 2018. In this case Bottas gifted Vettel the P2 by putting his car in the wall. Last year it was Vettel gifting Hamilton the win by putting it in the wall. Although Vettel had it easy driving past a few much slower mid field cars on a perfectly dry track. While Hamilton still had to deal with a wet track running on older tyres.

    1. Verstappen didn’t overtake anyone.

      he needed half a lap for Stroll ;)
      But more important, he was leading the race halfway and even three SC’s that every time took away his gap did not stopped him.
      Without SC he would have lapped the field.

    2. Senna did NOT drive over the whole field, he was like 4th or 5th at start, schumacher did NOT win through elimination in spain 1996.

  8. If we are honest, we only really were interested on who would crash next, thats what was exciting! Im not sure Donnington 93 was a good comparison

  9. agree with u jon there was no real thrilling race… just thirilling crashes, near misses, spins etc. a car hitting a barrier is not reli that good for racing though. its the opposite i would think. ofcos my thinking could be totally wrong.

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