We’re “going to have to be really at the top of our game to keep eking out a gap” in close 2024 F1 fight — Horner

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool
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A bittersweet weekend for Red Bull at the Canadian Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen taking the win ahead of Lando Norris and Sergio Perez retiring after causing an incident in the last laps.

In qualifying Verstappen had matched exactly the same time of Polesitter George Russell and he fought his way through an action-packed race to return to the win in a season that was starting to get a bit concerning for Red Bull.

The team came to Montreal after a difficult weekend in Monaco, in which Verstappen only came 6th and his teammate DNFed.

Having seen them struggle in the last couple of races, Mercedes Technical Director James Allison had argued just last week that the upgrade package Red Bull debuted at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was rather a downgrade.

“Even with our downgrade, we managed to beat their upgrade. It was a rewarding race to win,” commented Team Principal Christian Horner after the race, when asked about those remarks.

Up next Formula 1 is heading to Barcelona for the European leg of the championship, which means a return to more conventional circuits where they might regain some advantage. 

“The last couple of races have been more choppy water for us, but we’ve still managed to win two out of the last three races,” said Horner.

“We were in pole in Imola, we matched the pole time here, with a car that both drivers are feeling its deficiencies. So there’s a lot of focus on that, to see if we can obviously improve that, because we know circuit safety in the year like Singapore and so on, it could be a factor.”

With both Ferrari and McLaren having won races this season and Mercedes slowly making a comeback from a rough start, competition is on the rise for the reigning champions.

“We really expect Ferrari and McLaren certainly, and Mercedes that came into that window this weekend, to be competitive at every circuit.

“So I think we’re going to have to be right, despite the fact that we’ve won six out of the nine races, I think we’re going to have to be really at the top of our game to keep eking out a gap.”

A surprisingly good weekend for Mercedes that Horner is convinced is still too little to say if the Germans can actually be up there contanding podiums and wins.

“I think Mercedes have always done very well on green circuits, and there was no real high speed corners here,” he explained.

“So with the asphalt change it played probably, possibly to their strengths. So I think let’s see over the next two or three tracks if it’s genuine form or if it’s a one-off.”