Christian Horner surprised by the gap between Red Bull and the field
Through the first two races of the 2023 Formula 1 season, Red Bull has been head and shoulders above the field. The team was dominant during pre-season testing in Bahrain, followed that up with a front-row lockout during qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix and a one-two finish in the race itself, and then backed that up with another one-two finish in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
That dominance has left the other nine teams scrambling to catch up, and some drivers wondering if they could even compete with Red Bull at this point in the season.
Among those surprised by the dominance, and the gap between Red Bull and the field? None other than Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner.
“At times, in all honesty, yes. We see that some teams have made a step forward and some haven’t,” said Horner at Friday’s press conferences ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, when asked about whether he was surprised by the gap. However, the team boss expects the playing field to look different in the coming weeks. “But that’s going to change from circuit to circuit, venue to venue. And I’ve always said it’s going to take, you know, three or four races to get a real pattern as to what is the actual form book for the season,” added Horner.
Horner also addressed some praise for the RB19 from Lewis Hamilton, one of their biggest competitors. Hamilton remarked recently that he had never seen a faster car than Red Bull’s 2023 challenger, the RB19. “Well, it’s obviously very flattering, particularly considering some of the cars that Lewis has driven in recent history, but, you know, we’ve got a great car,” said the team boss. “I mean, RB19 is a fantastic starting point for the season for us and to have achieved two 1-2 finishes in the first two races is more than we could have ever expected coming into this season.”
Given the strong start, and the fact that Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez are separated by a single point atop the Drivers’ standings, perhaps the biggest challenge facing Horner at the moment is handling the competition between their two drivers. However, Horner brushed aside any notion of things turning difficult between the Red Bull duo.
“There’s no reason why it should. I mean, they’re both competitive animals, and they’re both racing drivers at the end of the day, but they know the rules of engagement, in terms of it being team first, and particularly at this stage of the year, where we know that we don’t have the development capability that other teams have in terms of wind tunnel time as the season goes on,” said Horner. “So for us it’s hugely important to bag as many points as we can, get as many into the championships as we can, early on, because we know the others are going to come back at us in the second half of the year.”
However, Horner wants to see the drivers pushing each other on the track, as in his mind, that translates to team success.
“We want two drivers that are going to be pushing and challenging each other,” added Horner. “I think the key thing is that over such a long season, it is a marathon, I think it’s all going to be about consistency over the 23-race series. That’s going to be the differentiator and you know, [Pérez] made a great start and both drivers are pushing each other, which is what you want to see.”
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6 of June 2023