Horner hails 'unbelievable effort' from Verstappen despite engine issue

© XPB 

Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner praised Max Verstappen for his performance in qualifying on Saturday, a result achieved despite a persistent engine issue.

Before the all-important evening session, Verstappen had expressed his frustration earlier in the day and on Friday with the running of his Renault Spec-C power unit.

And even in the final shootout, the Dutchman had been forced to abort his second run due to an engine cut-out.

"It was a fantastic lap, and unbelievable effort," Horner told Motorsport.com.

"To drive round the issues he had was truly impressive. It was a shame, I think without it we could have had a shot at the pole there, but to be starting on the front row feels like a pole position anyway.

"I think going into qualifying the engineers thought fifth and sixth was the likely outcome, so I think they've done a good job in getting the chassis tidied up."

Horner said Verstappen, who outqualified team mate Daniel Ricciardo by over six tenths, had been forced to adjust his driving to the chronic engine issue.

"Unfortunately with the mapping he's just not getting the delivery of the power that he's requesting from the pedal, so it's very intermittent. That's what's been having him over in terms of downshifts and on upshifts.

"So he's had to drive around that. Daniel's had that issue as well, but it's certainly affected Max more, or he's certainly been more vocal about it."

For now, Red Bull is the only team running Renault's new Spec-C unit. While Verstappen believed the issue would perhaps be less impacting in the race due to slightly lower power output settings, Horner said the French manufacturer was working to iron out the problem back at its French Viry base in time for Sunday evening.

"It's probably a numbers issue, which you're allowed to change. Under normal circumstances you'd expect some simulation or dyno time going into hopefully tidying that up," said Horner.

"The Renault guys are working flat out on it. This is the Spec C, it's still new. It's delivered the power, so it was definitely the right call to take the engine into this qualifying.

"Despite the issues it still has a bit more power. We just have to tidy it up for the race tomorrow. Hopefully it will be cleaner than when he drove out of the pits today."

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter