Horner on fastest lap controversy: “Checo knew that Max was going to have a crack at it”

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The 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix came to an end with two Red Bulls on the podium. Sergio Pérez and Max Verstappen scored the maximum points available, in what is expected to be a season of battles between Red Bull and a staggering Aston Martin.

Although Pérez won the race, he failed to hold the point for the fastest lap, taken away by Verstappen.

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, explained what happened.

“Well, I think we came to the conclusion that you know what, it’s the last lap, if it’s going to go, it’s going to go. I think he – Verstappen – had already come to that conclusion himself.

“So both drivers had the info. Checo had the fastest lap at that point, and he asked what it was, and it was obvious why he was asking. He knew that Max was going to have a crack at it.

“But Checo gave it up after the first couple of turns. He was already a tenth and a half (of a second) down, and you saw him back out of it.”

“The only issue about managing pace was when the issue with the driveshaft became prevalent.

“At that point, you’re thinking, ‘Okay, let’s turn down both cars’. But as soon as it became clear that we couldn’t see anything in the data, we released the cars again.”

Discussions about the open battle between drivers from the same team seem to return every weekend, especially in the championship-leading team. And even in Red Bull, where the diamond tip is and remains Max Verstappen, discussions return cyclically.

During the post-race press conference, the Red Bull drivers were asked how it was decided which one was getting the fastest lap, and Max Verstappen answered:

“With a few laps ago, I asked what the fastest lap was. We were first of all free to race and of course we had a target lap time to the end. It’s a point on the line, it was the same also in Bahrain it got asked so especially when it’s just between the two cars, I think it’s quite normal that you asked for what the fastest lap is.”

Sergio Pérez also had his say on the matter.

Yeah, I asked two laps from the end, while they were telling us… where they told me to keep a certain pace. They told me I had the fastest lap and to keep the pace, a certain pace. So I thought the communication was the same to Max or something. We need to review because I got certainly the different information and I just couldn’t push it there.”

Photo: Red Bull Racing