Red Bull delivered one of the best weekends in its history at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix by nearly scoring maximum points, according to team principal Christian Horner.
Max Verstappen won the Sprint on Saturday with Sergio Perez climbing through the field to finish third, securing 14 out of a possible 15 points in that part of the event.
Perez then overtook Charles Leclerc at the start of Sunday’s race to follow Verstappen home as part of a one-two, and Horner was full of praise for his team after Verstappen completed the grand slam of leading every lap and getting the extra fastest lap point.
“It’s fantastic, and it’s one point off a maximum score over the whole weekend,” Horner said. “One-three (in the sprint), one-two (in the grand prix), fastest lap… So it was just the rebound that we needed after the disappointment of Australia a couple of weeks ago.
“And a phenomenal team performance because we took a bit of a risk coming into the weekend with a couple of small parts that we introduced to the car – which is always tricky when you’ve only got one session – but we attacked the weekend from the word go and both drivers have been unbelievable.
“Both Max and Checo have driven brilliantly this weekend and that one-two finish is all credit to the team. A brilliant pit stop strategy, but also back in the factory in Milton Keynes. The hard effort and work after the disappointment of Australia, to come back with a result like that here in Imola was one of our best ever results.”
Horner admits Red Bull was particularly keen for a strong weekend off the back of Verstappen’s retirement in Melbourne, and believes the turnaround at Imola will provide a boost if the team continues having to chase Ferrari in the standings.
“It’s so early in the championship there’s going to be swings and roundabouts. Obviously the DNFs have been costly, particularly for Max, but it’s a long, long season, and I think we’ll take a lot of confidence out of this weekend.
“The championship, obviously it was important for us to take some points off Ferrari which we’ve done in both championship tables so we’ll take that out of this weekend and try and build on it in Miami at an all-new circuit in a couple of weeks’ time.”
The Red Bull boss attributes the swing in performance compared to Ferrari to tire usage, with Horner believing his team did a better job of getting the tires working than the championship leader in Imola.
“I think as we saw in Melbourne the tires, there’s an operating window within them. I think the set-up this weekend, we got it right and we could see that Charles was struggling a little bit more with the front tires here than we were, both in (Saturday’s) race and starting to happen in the latter part of (Sunday’s) race.
“That just gave us the upper hand and Max was able to manage the race perfectly. Checo was able to build a gap to Charles and manage that gap, and at no point – other than one trip across the grass with Checo – did we really come under too much pressure.”