Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Yuki Tsunoda cost his team pole position at the Mexico City Grand Prix.
Tsunoda has a power unit penalty that means he will start from the back of the grid but was extremely competitive all weekend in Mexico, so AlphaTauri allowed him to reach Q3 in order to provide Pierre Gasly with a tow. After delivering the help to his teammate, Tsunoda was returning to the pits but had Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen approaching in the middle sector, so went off track to let the Red Bulls through.
Perez then followed Tsunoda off and Verstappen lost time reacting to the pair, with Horner telling Sky Sports he felt the Japanese rookie ruined Red Bull’s qualifying.
“I think we got Tsunoda’d,” Horner said. “Both drivers were up on their last lap. Max was up two and a half tenths, I think Checo was just under two-tenths up and I don’t understand why he was just cruising around at that part of the circuit.
“It’s disappointing because it affected both the drivers and they are both pretty annoyed. But we’re still second row of the grid and can have a great race from there.”
Horner denied Red Bull lost performance due to modifications made to its rear wing at the end of FP3 ahead of qualifying, despite seeing Mercedes go comfortably fastest on the first runs in Q3.
“We saw something in P3 that we just wanted to add a bit of protection into those rear wings, so it was more precautionary than anything else. So nothing that would affect the performance.”
Mercedes ended up locking out the front row, and Horner says there had been signs Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton could be a threat from Friday practice.
“They were very quick, very quick. I think we could see yesterday that their engine, they’ve addressed the issues that they had previously here. So they’ve obviously managed to address that. I think we underperformed in Q3, but it’s still very, very tight. I think in the race tomorrow, again it’s going to be very tight. They’ve just got a good straight-line speed here, which is going to be tough.”