Max Verstappen’s victory in the Monaco Grand Prix might have put him in the lead of the drivers’ championship while Red Bull overtook Mercedes in the constructors’ standings at the same time, but team boss Christian Horner is proceeding on the premise his team is still behind its rivals. With more races (18) still to run than there were in the whole of the 2009 season, Horner says it will be a long time until actual positions become significant, and so his team’s focus should be on staying within striking distance during this phase of the season.
“Look, it’s still a long, long way to go but when they have an off day, it was very important for us to bank a lot of points,” Horner said. “To do that and come out leading both championships is beyond expectations, certainly coming into the weekend. It just shows how close things are and things can move around very quickly.
“We’ve just got to keep in striking distance until the back end of the championship and that’s where the pressure really comes. So at the moment, you’re in that (place) where you’re running through the races, it’s important to be reliable, consistent and not lose too much ground.
“We leave leading both championships, the first time in the hybrid era. So that’s really encouraging. Nobody is getting carried away, there’s still an awfully long way to go in this championship. To be as close as we are at this stage is very encouraging.”
While Lewis Hamilton claimed Mercedes was making fewer errors than Red Bull prior to Monaco, Horner believes his team is performing at a consistently high level so far this season, with Verstappen having finished in the top two at every round so far.
“It’s a great race team — we’ve got great strength in depth,” he said. “We’ve finished first or second in the first five races now. It’s been a phenomenal performance when you consider the majority of the car is a carryover from last year.
“I think the whole team, particularly through the pandemic, have really galvanized and really come together. It’s testimony to that teamwork that we are able to get the performances we are delivering.”