Why did Christian Horner call Max Verstappen’s pole position result in Austria ‘incomplete’ for Red Bull

F1 Grand Prix of Austria - Practice & Qualifying
Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner looks on in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 30, 2023 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Red Bull CEO Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen securing pole position was not enough for the team at the Austrian GP qualifying. The Briton rued Sergio Perez’ dismal qualifying session where he failed to make it into the Q3 for the third race weekend in a row.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the qualifying session, Horner said:

“He’s got the pace today. He’s got a car that was easily capable of being on the first or second row. He was matching Max’s times. Stay in the white lines! It was strike one, strike two, Checo, just stay in the white lines! Strike three, and that was it.
"So, I mean, just hugely frustrating because he could have been there, he could have done it, so that’s the frustration. It’s fantastic that we got the pole, but it feels not complete.”

Commenting on the performance of Max Verstappen, he added:

“Yeah, but at least he responded to when we said stay in the white lines and he did that. So he built a conservatism into his laps to make sure that he had a wheel inside the line, and I think there was a little bit more time in the car in that last sector if he hadn’t have gone for it, so he was driving with a bit of restraint.”

The Briton felt the team result was incomplete as the Mexican qualified 15th after his lap times got deleted thrice in the session. The 34-year-old has failed to make it to Q3 in four out of nine race weekends in the 2023 season and has been struggling on track to close the gap to his Dutch teammate.

Therefore, the Red Bull CEO was unhappy with the overall team result despite the pole position secured by the Dutchman. He felt the 24-year-old champion had a similar instance where his lap times were deleted in Q1, but drove with restraint to maintain his pole position.

Christian Horner feels Max Verstappen is handicapped without teammate in the Austrian GP race

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Lamenting the lack of a second driver in the top 10, Christian Horner believes it will be difficult defending the Ferraris and other rivals without Sergio Perez in the mix. The Red Bull team boss believes that Alex Albon blocking the Mexican added to the miseries.

The Mexican believes that it was not just the track limits that compromised his qualifying, but also the Williams driver. He felt that Max Verstappen will be defenseless with two Ferraris behind him in the race.

Commenting on the frustrations of Perez in qualifying, Horner said:

“Of course, it is not going to have helped, but then you build a little more margin. So Checo, frustrated, we’ll turn the page. He’ll race hard tomorrow, but it’s just annoying because we know he could have been there.
"I think it’s just a great shame because I think this would have really kickstarted things for him. And then, of course, the frustration for us as a team is now we have two Ferraris that are a little closer, versus one Red Bull, with Checo out of position.”

Although Max Verstappen starts the Austrian GP on pole, Perez will have a long race ahead to surge up the grid from 15th. The Mexican will also battle two Ferraris, Aston Martins, and Mercedes drivers along the road.

His sprint race was not ideal either, where Nico Hulkenberg was able to keep him at bay in equal conditions. He was beaten by his teammate by a margin of 20 seconds in the same car. Fernando Alonso is not too far away either from snatching second place from Perez in the championship standings.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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