Horner surprised by Red Bull dominance
By Ian Parkes
Thursday 23rd March, 2023 - 5:00pm
Christian Horner has conceded to surprise at Red Bull’s dominance at the start of the new F1 season.
For the first time in what is now Red Bull’s 19th season in the sport, it has opened up a campaign with back-to-back one-two finishes, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez scoring a victory apiece.
Even during Mercedes’ dominance from 2014-2021 in winning eight consecutive constructors’ championships, the team only managed such a start just once in 2019.
It has been evident that Red Bull has taken a stride forward from its superior position of last season.
Whilst Mercedes and Ferrari were expected to draw closer to the Milton Keynes-based team this campaign, instead, the duo have slipped further off the pace to such an extent that Aston Martin has now leapfrogged them to become the second-quickest team.
Asked whether he was surprised by the level of dominance, Horner earnestly replied: “Yes.”
As to why Red Bull had done such a good job and its main rivals had fallen away, he said: “Not really but you can only focus on yourself.
“All testimony to the team in Milton Keynes who have done a wonderful job over the winter.”
Red Bull had to engineer around “handicap”
Pinpointing the need for his team to get it right given the penalty imposed on wind tunnel time for breaching the cost cap in 2021, Horner added: “It was so critical for us to come out of the blocks competitively.
“The wind tunnel reduction has applied since last October, so for us, we couldn’t afford to miss the target with that limited run because you’d never be able to engineer your way out of that with that handicap.
“So the team has done an amazing job. RB19 has given us the best start to a season we’ve ever had.
“We’re only two races in but to have had two one-two finishes, and be one point off a maximum score, I don’t think we could have ever dreamed about that coming into the season.”
Driveshaft problem to be investigated
One area of concern for Horner, however, is the driveshaft failure suffered by Verstappen during the second part of qualifying ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The reigning F1 champion sustained a further issue late in the race, suggesting the same component was “running a bit rough”.
Around the same time as Verstappen’s radio transmission, even Perez mentioned that he was “starting to feel some vibrations from the rear axle”.
Promising an investigation, Horner said: “It’s something we need to understand.
“We’ll take that we’ve got all the parts. The great thing is, there’s nothing that’s gone missing, so we just need to learn from it going forward.
“If there’s a design tweak or not, I don’t know, but obviously, we’ve got four samples of it running in both our cars and in the AlphaTauris.”
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