Christian Horner claims Red Bull was outqualified by Ferrari at the Japanese Grand Prix because it could not match its rival in terms of power through the third and final sector at Suzuka.
The Milton Keynes-based outfit entered the weekend as Mercedes’ nearest challengers on the back of an impressive 1-2 finish in Malaysia last Sunday. However, the Renault-engined Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo ended up a couple of tenths shy of the Ferraris in Q3.
“It’s pretty respectable really” Horner told Sky Sports F1 when asked about the gap to the Scuderia. “If you look at the car’s performance through sector 1, it’s pretty might with both drivers.
“Unfortunately, the run back up the hill, we don’t have the power through that 130R and we just dropped two tenths in a very short sector. We know the others have a qualifying mode, they don’t have it all the race so hopefully we can be stronger on Sunday.”
Red Bull’s prospects for the race could be boosted by the fact that it managed to advance through to Q2 on the medium compound, thus saving a set of softs.
It nearly did not happen though, with the team sending both drivers back out on the soft tyre at the end of Q1 to cover any late improvements.
“It was right on the very cusp,” Horner explained. “All we’ve done is a very slow install lap so [the soft tyres] are as good as new for the race, no energy has been put through the tyres, which leaves it strategically open for a potentially dry grand prix.”