Horner lauds Verstappen’s F1 Imola GP “masterclass”, praises Buemi for Red Bull improvement following bad Friday

Max Verstappen lifting the trophy on the podium at Imola
Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool
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Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has credited their simulator driver Sebastien Buemi for the Austrian team’s gain in performance during the race weekend at Imola.

The reigning champions suffered a difficult Friday, particularly at Acque Minerali, as Max Verstappen ran wide into the gravel.

The team recovered to take pole position for the Imola Grand Prix with the Dutchman, although he gained a slipstream from Nico Hulkenberg.

Verstappen leads the World Championship comfortably with a 48-point advantage over his nearest rival Charles Leclerc.

When asked what the reason was for Red Bull’s improvement from after Friday, Horner replied: “Sebastien Buemi.”

He praised the former WEC and Formula E World Champion for his work in the simulator and assisting Red Bull in perfecting their RB20 after a tricky Friday.

“We did a lot of work on set-up over Friday night into Saturday and managed to move the balance and get the car into a much better window. 

“And as I say, for 60% of the race, we were comfortably anywhere between six and eight seconds clear of the rest. It was just the second half of that stint on the hard tyre. We started to give away performance.”

Verstappen led comfortably after leading into Tamburello on the opening lap, building a sizeable advantage over Norris.

The final stages of the race proved much more difficult for the race leader, as the hard tyre didn’t work in harmony with the Red Bull.

This allowed Norris to close to within a second a the end of the race, but the McLaren driver didn’t get close enough to pass.

Verstappen spent his free time sim racing while in Imola, winning the iRacing Nurburgring 24 Hours.

Horner applauded his driver’s dedication as F1 enters a busy section of the calendar.

“Well, I think he’s had a very busy weekend because he’s also competed in the 24 hours of Nürburgring in between being in the car. 

“So he’s won two races today, one in a BMW M3 and one in a Formula 1 car. And I think that Max, this weekend, and you heard what it meant to him, the pole position yesterday. He really had to dig very deep. The performance again today was a masterclass.”