Christian Horner pinpoints what “completely screwed” Red Bull in the Singapore GP

By | September 17, 2023

Christian Horner in the Red Bull garage.  Belgium, July 2023. Credit: Alamy

Christian Horner in the Red Bull garage. Belgium, July 2023. Credit: Alamy

While Red Bull were hoping for a Safety Car to get them back into contention at the Singapore GP, Christian Horner said where they ended up couldn’t have been worse for them.

Qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix took many by surprise as Red Bull failed to even clear the hurdle of Q2, putting the team’s unbeaten record in F1 2023 so far this season in jeopardy.

Ultimately, as has been the case for much of the season, Red Bull were a much stronger force on race day, although a fifth place for Max Verstappen was the best they could achieve.

Red Bull’s “strategic gamble” fails in Singapore

Both Verstappen and Sergio Perez started the race on hard compound tyres, Horner said the hope was that a Safety Car would arrive either at the start of the race or towards the end.

Instead, it happened when Logan Sargeant hit the wall on lap 20, allowing the Ferraris, Mercedes and McLaren’s Lando Norris to make an economical pit stop, while Red Bull was forced to continue.

Verstappen eventually made his way through the pack after stopping for medium tyres, finishing just 0.2 seconds behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, which Horner said represented a solid performance for his team.

“I think we understood a lot more in the race and the pace of the car came back much closer to what we expected,” Horner told reporters in Singapore.

“Coming here we expected stronger competition. But I think it took us a little by surprise how far we were on Friday. And I think we just weren’t in the right operating window for the car, particularly on the single lap, and when you’re not there the tires feel horrible, everything just doesn’t work.

“So I think we got very good control in the race, I think we saw, especially in the last stint, that Max’s pace was very, very strong.

“Unfortunately in the race, by starting strong, we made a strategic gamble, and the best way to pay ourselves back in that race is to get a Safety Car at the start or a Safety Car later in the race.

“Now, the lap where the Safety Car came in was probably strategically the worst possible lap for the strategy we had adopted, because it gave the cars in front of us a free stop. At the same time, although he gave us the position on the track, he made us restart with tires that were very difficult to warm up, after having done well for over 20 laps. The Safety Car completely ruined everything for us.

“So Max was obviously taken out by the guys who had done the free stop and so we had to make a pit stop in normal racing conditions, which puts you another 23 seconds behind.

“So, all things considered, the recovery that we had and the pace that we had, particularly in the last part of the race, was 0.2 [seconds] Behind Charles at the finish line it was a very strong race.” recommends

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Christian Horner with a message for Ferrari

Carlos Sainz then took victory for Ferrari, ending Red Bull’s winning streak at 15.

Horner praised the team and its driver Sainz, a former member of the Red Bull programme, with Horner now shifting attention to next weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, where Red Bull hopes to secure the 2023 F1 Constructors’ title.

“At some point we were going to get beat, 15 in a row is an incredible record,” Horner said. “We’ve only been beaten once before tonight since last July.

“And I have to congratulate Ferrari and in particular Carlos, who drove a very strong race today and deserves to win the race. And at the same time, we have narrowed down both championships, and we have a chance to win the Constructors’ Championship in Japan next weekend.”

Of course, the glaring question being asked of Red Bull is whether Singapore was just a blip, or whether Red Bull has gone into decline considering no team has come close to challenging them this season prior to this latest outing.

Red Bull’s difficulties coincided with the introduction of two FIA technical directives regarding flexible bodywork and floors.

However, Horner reflected on Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit as a dangerous track for Red Bull, saying he hoped they would return to form in Japan.

“I think if you look at the last 18 months, this has probably been one of our toughest race weekends, or definitely Saturday, Friday, Saturday,” Horner said.

“I thought the car was actually quite strong in the race.

“So two completely different layouts, a completely different type of circuit, so hopefully we can be competitive in Japan next weekend.”

Perez was penalized five seconds after the race for causing a collision with Alex Albon, although he retained his eighth place despite this.

To know more: Singapore Grand Prix: Carlos Sainz wins for Ferrari as Red Bull’s winning streak ends ingloriously

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