Red Bull had a quicker car than Ferrari in race conditions at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, according to team principal Christian Horner.
Ferrari had looked the class of the field during practice but was then beaten to the front row by the two Mercedes drivers after Charles Leclerc crashed in qualifying. Max Verstappen started from fourth and dropped behind Sergio Perez early on, but once in clear air he closed back up on the top three before a late Virtual Safety Car saw the race fizzle out.
“I thought there would be some more action, but I think for us it was a positive race,” Horner said. “Our pace compared to Ferrari and Mercedes was strong. I think we actually probably had a quicker car than Ferrari.
“When you look at Pierre (Gasly), in particular, despite on paper having a horrible weekend where he’s been excluded three times and a DNF, actually his pace has been strong. If you look at his pace versus Leclerc, in the second half of the stint he was stronger throughout.
“I think we lost a little bit too much time behind Perez at the beginning which dropped Max off the back of Sebastian (Vettel) and the Mercedes, but at the end of the stint he was quicker, quite a bit quicker, so we went a couple of laps longer to give him a better tire for the second stint.
“And then for the second stint I think he took 10 seconds out of Sebastian and closed on the group ahead. Then we had the VSC, we struggled a little bit with getting the warm-up going again but after the failure that we’ve seen with Pierre, we didn’t want to take too much risk.”
Starting from the pit lane, Gasly had risen to sixth place during a long first stint and looked in good shape for strong points when his retirement forced the VSC, and Horner says that ended Red Bull’s challenge.
“It was a driveshaft failure so we don’t know why. Obviously after having seen that we didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks with Max. P4, that’s his third P4 in a row. It’s always frustrating when you’re the first place off the podium but I think he drove a very strong race and as I said, I think Gasly actually had a very good weekend.
“We just turned things down a little bit to not put as much energy into the drive line, so obviously until the VSC he looked in pretty decent shape.”