Track limits have proven expensive for Red Bull over the first three races of the season and are proving frustrating after more issues at the Portuguese Grand Prix, according to team principal Christian Horner.
Max Verstappen had a lap time good enough for pole position deleted due to exceeding track limits on Saturday in Portimao, and then lost the extra point for setting the fastest lap after also running wide at the penultimate corner. With Lewis Hamilton winning in Portugal to edge eight points clear of Verstappen in the drivers’ championship, Horner admits such moments could prove costly.
“Obviously, we need to be perfect but there were strengths and weaknesses to the cars,” Horner said. “Let’s not forget that Lewis dropped the ball in a pretty big way at Imola a couple of weeks ago and got away with it quite lightly…
“It’s inevitable when you’re pushing at the limit like these guys are it’s all about those fine margins. The whole track limit debate is just frustrating. It’s been brutal for us across the first three events – the win in Bahrain, the pole position and then the fastest lap. It’s been pretty expensive for us.”
📺 𝑵𝑶𝑾 𝑺𝑯𝑶𝑾𝑰𝑵𝑮: Hamilton v Verstappen: Portugal Edition#PortugueseGP 🇵🇹 #F1 pic.twitter.com/3JmM0EjEO9
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Despite that frustration, Horner says the fact Red Bull was so competitive at a track that he expected Mercedes to hold a bigger advantage on is reason for his team to be optimistic for the rest of the year.
“The margins are so tight that track limits have been quite expensive for us this weekend,” he added. “The pole position… But you can see the Mercedes pace. Particularly on the hard tire, I think they had the advantage on us so to split the Mercedes on a circuit like this actually bodes really well for us.
“Starting third, finishing second, I think Max did a great job – certainly on the restart to get ahead of Lewis. He then obviously had a moment and lost the place to Lewis, but generally I think it’s all about those marginal gains isn’t it? And I think it’s very, very tight between us and Mercedes which is tremendously encouraging.”