Horner reflects on Red Bull Racing’s ‘great pace’ and having ‘got all the calls right’ in Austria

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Picture Credits Red Bull Content Pool

Last Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix will surely now be remembered for the post-race penalties applied after the FIA reported (in the hours after the chequered flag fell at the Red Bull Ring) that they had 1200-plus possible track limit offences to review. However, it should certainly be remembered for the dominance shown yet again by Red Bull Racing. Particularly, current F1 Drivers’ World Champion Max Verstappen as he claimed his 5th win in a row and seventh of the 2023 F1 season so far. Team Principal Christian Horner spoke post-race to Sky Sports F1 about his team’s ‘great pace’ and having ‘got all the calls right’ around the Styrian hills.


Due to the dominance Red Bull Racing have shown in 2023, even when Charles Leclerc briefly led Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix after taking advantage of the VSC, hardly anyone realistically expected the Monegasque to prevent Verstappen from maintaining his winning streak. As the Red Bull’s pace came to the fore, the on-track pass soon followed. Verstappen carved out almost 24 seconds over Leclerc in the closing stages before choosing to make a pit stop for what proved to be a successful bid for the fastest lap – on the final lap of the race.


Speaking to Sky Sports F1 post-race amid the sound of jubilant Dutch fans blaring air horns, Christian Horner reflected on his team’s latest triumph.


“Look it was a fantastic race and you know strategically I think we got all the calls right today. Staying out at that first VSC I think was crucial, particularly for Checo’s race and we just had a great pace and you know of course there was a bit of risk in that last pitstop to take the fastest lap…we thought it was worth the risk.” explained Horner.


Max Verstappen was the driving force behind going for the fastest lap. He knew it takes approximately 20 seconds and that he had a few more seconds than that as a buffer. He also surely knew that a slow wheel gun or any other error would hand victory to Charles Leclerc. However, his faith in his team is such that he was confident that his race victory was safe in their hands. After the smoothest of stops he was soon back on track with one lap remaining – and even crossed the finish line with a lead of 5.155s over Leclerc.


Christian Horner was asked if anyone is capable of stopping Max Verstappen at this point with the Dutchman seemingly finding another level compared to his rivals.


“He’s in incredible form and the team’s operating at such a high level that you know the win yesterday, the win today, you know that matches I think our best in season run of results. So, you know an incredible performance. So yeah, we just want to keep it going.” stated Horner.


With Scuderia Ferrari starting P2 and P3 they were well poised to attempt a variety of strategies to see if either driver could get the edge over Verstappen. Somewhat to Horner’s surprise, they instead kept both their drivers on the same approach.


“Well, we thought that maybe they [Ferrari] might split them at that first VSC but they did the same thing with both cars. To be honest with you, I don’t think there’s much they could have arguably done today and I’m sure they were trying to treat both drivers fairly but you know strategically they could have probably split – but that just made life a little bit easier.” said Horner.


Sergio Perez certainly could have made his life easier for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix but after qualifying P15, the Mexican had it all to do. On track passes, good tyre management and a sensible strategy enabled him to come home P3 but it was very much a case of what could have been, as Horner admitted in his post-race remarks.

“You know the qualifying with Sergio on Friday was the frustrating part you could see you know he had such great place today and his recovery was fantastic so, you know, he got a great result out of it in the end.”

“If you look at his pace, particularly when he got clear air, his pace was fine. The problem was when you start down in 15 or so, the amount of time you lose coming through the traffic you’ve lost touch with the leaders so that’s what took any chance away of a victory for him today – but his recovery was outstanding.” said Horner.


With Red Bull Racing having maintained their winning streak in 2023 the question was unsurprisingly posed as to whether they will go unbeaten through the entire season. When this was asked by host Simon Lazenby, the man leading Red Bull Racing replied “It drives me nuts when you ask those questions.” Even so, he still answered what many a pundit is asking.


”We can only take it one race at a time. I mean can we? Yes. Will we? Who knows. I mean reliability, weather. You know Silverstone next weekend is gonna be epic. It’s gonna be fantastic there but you know, who knows what obstacles there could be. We saw what happened there last year so it’s a race we haven’t won since I think Mark [Webber] back in 2012 so you know that’s a big race for us on this calendar.” concluded Horner.


As big a race as Silverstone may be, F1 Grand Prix weekends are coming thick and fast with the halfway point of the 2023 season just a few weeks away. On this form, no one can stop Max Verstappen much to the delight of the Orange Army. An army which seems to get bigger each weekend – just like Red Bull Racing’s lead in the Constructors’ championship which is now at a staggering 199 points. Meanwhile, Max Verstappen behind his charging bull now has an 81 point lead in the F1 Drivers’ Championship. The Dutchman has gotten the better of his teammate, trampled over prancing horses, evaded silver arrows and even kept the might of Fernando Alonso at bay. On this form, there is no reason to expect it to end anytime soon.