Horner: Too early to add new components for Verstappen
By Mat Coch
Sunday 19th March, 2023 - 12:10pm
It is too early in the season for Red Bull to introduce new components for Max Verstappen after he qualified 15th for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The world championship leader suffered a driveshaft failure before he’d set a lap in Qualifying 2.
Verstappen had topped all three practice sessions leading into the all-important session and was favourite to take pole position.
Instead, he’ll line up buried in the grid while team-mate Sergio Perez starts from pole.
No new components for Verstappen
Red Bull is not planning on compounding Verstappen’s woe by introducing new components.
Drivers have a limited number of key items, such as gearboxes, turbochargers, exhausts, and others.
Teams have at times taken strategic penalties in an effort to introduce new components into their available pool to improve performance or sidestep reliability concerns.
Just a race into the 2023 season, team boss Christian Horner suggests it’s too early to start playing those games for Verstappen.
“I’m not sure we could introduce enough bits. It’s only race two,” Horner told Sky Sports.
“It’s a great shame, really frustrating.
“The car has been on fire all weekend and Max as well, every session he’s been very quick.
“Let’s see how he races tomorrow.
“It’s going to be a busy race for him but we’ve got good straight-line speed, we’ve got a good race car, let’s see what we can do.”
Early season reliability
Both Verstappen and Perez had new gearbox components fitted ahead of qualifying, in line with what is permitted under the regulations.
Reliability has proved a hot topic this weekend with Charles Leclerc, Nyck de Vries, and Lando Norris all striking trouble.
According to Horner, the change at Red Bull was not a result of similar concerns.
“It was just part of our strategy of introducing parts into the pool,” he explained.
“Something obviously has happened there and we need to get to the bottom of it and understand that and try to ensure that doesn’t happen tomorrow.”
While Verstappen will start the race down the order, pole position was the second of Perez’s career.
The Mexican has a strong chance of victory given Red Bull has been the dominant car through the weekend.
“It’s a great opportunity for Checo [Perez], important to convert that, so we’re going to have two different races going on in the grand prix tomorrow,” Horner said.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix begins at 20:00 local time on Sunday (04:00 AEDT Monday).
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