Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Jeddah track suits Red Bull car better than team expected – Horner

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the team are encouraged by how close they are to rivals Mercedes after the opening day of practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Championship leader Max Verstappen was two tenths of a second off rival Lewis Hamilton’s benchmark pace after second practice around the new Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Horner says that the track appears reward cornering performance more than they expected before arriving at the recently-completed venue.

“The circuit’s a little bit tighter than the data suggested, the corners are a little bit tighter,” Horner told Sky after second practice. “It’s not all the emphasis on horsepower that we thought it was going to be. So that’s encouraging.

“You can see, there’s a tenth or two between the two cars, between the drivers. On this type of circuit, you can find that. That’s really encouraging for us.”

Verstappen wasted no time in pushing immediately from the opening minutes of first practice. Horner says he believes the challenging, high-speed nature of the Jeddah circuit suits his team’s title contender.

“This is Max’s kind of circuit,” Horner said. “It’s high speed, walls, kerbs. You could see he was down to a time quicker than anybody else. I spoke to him after the session, he’s certainly enjoying it.”

Red Bull previously warned Mercedes would be the team to beat at this circuit due to their strong straight-line speed. However after threatening to protest their rival’s rear wing during the previous round in Qatar, Horner said that following the introduction of new tests by the FIA, his team are now back to a level with their rivals in terms of top speed.

“After the new test was introduced in Qatar, I think that we’ve seen convergence on speed,” he explained. “We’ve seen very similar speeds again here today. So that’s encouraging. Hopefully that will remain the case at this weekend and next weekend.”

With Verstappen setting his quickest time of the day on the medium tyres, Horner described how the team were finding the softer compound more difficult to make work.

“We felt very strong on the hard tyre and the softer the compound we went, the more of a diva the tyre becomes to switch on and to get the maximum out of. So there’ll be a lot of analysis going into that tonight – out-laps and preparation and all of that kind of thing.

“I don’t think from listening to the comments that we were alone in that, I think there were others struggling to get the car in the right window. But once you unlock that, you can see there’s a lot of performance there.”

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2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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8 comments on “Jeddah track suits Red Bull car better than team expected – Horner”

  1. Horner still having a moan about the rear wing. There is no data to show that Mercedes top speed changed since Brazil. And it’s RBR who had to change their wing not Mercedes. So, you know, circumstantial evidence, conspiracy theories, all that.

    There is not much space to make up time, besides in braking. You can get another 10cm closer to the wall at the apex, basically. And for the same reason, a tiny lock up throws away the whole lap because you are not making up that time anywhere else.

    1. No data???
      Just look at the speedtrap.
      A buy a real pair of glasses.

      1. You’re right, the speed trap tells the truth. Hamilton is simply a faster driver. Verstappen is fast, but not that fast, especially considering he has the fastest car this year. Even Gasly is faster than him with the same engine but worse chassis/aero.
        I am glad we can agree on this for a change.

      2. No you look at the FIA data. Hamilton was not even fastest car in Brazil in the race in the traps. Your claim is verifiably false.

        Verstappen on the other hand was one of the slowest cars. This is RBRs design and set up choice.

      3. erikje, as has been repeatedly pointed out, during the Brazilian GP, Horner was deliberately making a false comparison by comparing Verstappen’s end of straight speed with no DRS – the indication being Verstappen was actually losing a small amount of speed at the end of the straights as his ERS was going into harvesting mode before the end of the straight – against the maximum speed for Hamilton when using both DRS and being in the slipstream of another car.

        When the two cars were operating in more similar conditions – i.e. without DRS or a slipstream – the actual difference in Brazil was more like 8kph, nothing like as much as Horner said. It would appear, however, that Horner can say what he wants and you’ll repeat it without question.

  2. Max’s first laps in FP1 at Jeddah were just amazing. One of the great moments of this season.

  3. Nobody is surprised by this.

  4. Just put some money on a RedBull win. If Horner isn’t crying they must be quick.

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