Horner: “Master” Verstappen delivers in the “key moments” following impressive F1 Spanish GP victory

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool
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Red Bull secured a seventh win in ten Grands Prix this year as Max Verstappen beat Lando Norris to victory in the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, extending his championship lead to 69 points over the Brit.

The start was absolutely critical. Although Norris tried to squeeze Verstappen off the line, the Dutchman was late on the brakes into turn 1 and took P2, with George Russell sweeping around the outside for the lead as he picked up the double slipstream.

However, the defending World Champion soon got himself out front with a cracking pass into turn 1 as he went down the outside of the Mercedes on lap 3.

From there, it was about controlling the pace and tyres as the McLaren of Norris was stuck behind Russell in the first stint.

Despite creating a tyre offset for stints 2 and 3, the 24-year-old fell 2s short of victory. Norris believed that McLaren had the fastest car on the day.

In his post-race written media session, Christian Horner discussed the key points of the race for Red Bull Racing.

“I think today there was a few decisive moments. Obviously we lost the pole by two-hundredths yesterday, and we knew it was going to be very tight with Lando, so the start was crucial.

“We took the start on the scrub tyre rather than the new tyre because we wanted to have the new tyre because we thought we might need it for an undercut later in the race.

“Max had a good start, managed to get alongside Lando, fairly robust racing where he’s on the grass on the way down to Turn 1 which then allowed George to pick out his braking point and go around the outside. So job one was passing Lando into Turn 1.

“And then it was a race that was always going to be dominated with tyre wear and so being quick to pass George was crucial. He pushed hard on that first lap or two to get the pass on George as soon as the DRS opened and then immediately got into managing the tyres and was able to build out a gap reasonably comfortably in that first stint.

“At that point we decided to go for an optimum race in terms of strategy in our stop laps. McLaren obviously extended so they go off an optimum race, so they have an offset.

“So you look at the gap and you think nine seconds looks pretty decent but you know with the tyre offset at six laps, I think it was on the medium and then three or four on the soft, those gaps come back at you pretty quickly.

“So today it was all about not making any mistakes and Max drove a perfect race. I think the strategy was spot on, well-executed pit stops.

“So it’s all those small details. We knew that Lando would come back towards us at the end of the race but we felt we should have just enough in hand which is the way it played out.

McLaren has been a genuine contender for poles and victories ever since they introduced a sizable update at the Miami Grand Prix, with Lando Norris taking out his first F1 win that weekend.

Horner admitted that if Norris had held the lead at the start, it would have been very tricky to beat the 1-time Grand Prix winner.

“I think if Lando would have had track position it would have been difficult to beat him today. It was so close between the two of them, they were then circa 18 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.So I would say that Lando has emerged from the pack as the most consistent challenger.

Horner was full of praise for the team and Verstappen on executing a perfect race to hold off McLaren and Norris on Sunday. He conceded that they look to have an advantage at the end of stints regarding tyre deg, but the Red Bull team principal did not conclusively say the MCL38 is now F1’s fastest car.

“I think McLaren looked fast certainly at the end of the stints which is something that we’ve seen at a couple of races now, so their degradation seems to be good. But that’s a little bit offset by the strategy and the overlap in the tyre life.

“So we had enough today to get the job done and it was the 7th victory out of 10 races. Four of them have been very hard — but again the team working at a level where we’re still delivering the pit stops at 1.7 seconds and strategy etc.

“But Max again demonstrated why he’s the world champion. The key, key moments he delivers. And he’s got such capacity in his driving.

“He knows the stint length, he knows what he needs to take out of the tyres and that’s where he really is a master.”