Christian Horner believes Ferrari had a chance to beat Max Verstappen in the Miami Grand Prix but failed to react to the safety car.
A collision between Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly led to a virtual safety car that turned into a full safety car soon after, with Sergio Perez the only one of the top four to make a pit stop. However, Horner says the timing was bad for Verstappen and opened the door to the Ferrari pair behind, so he was surprised not to see either stopping at the same point.
“[Verstappen] was fantastic,” Horner said. “Under pressure, obviously having lost out on track time on Friday, especially on a new circuit, that hurt us in qualifying. But in the race there were several key moments.
“One was the start, then looking after the tires, putting Charles under pressure, making that pass, and then really controlling the race until the safety car, and because with the three DRS zones they are so powerful it was very, very hard to break the tow. No mistakes.
“Ferrari left us off the hook slightly, because when it went from a virtual safety car to a full safety car, Max had already passed the pit entry, whereas Ferrari would have had a free stop and they didn’t take it with either of their cars.
“So we’re grateful for that because I think if they would have put soft tires on that would have been a P3.”
In the first stint Verstappen was clearly quicker than Leclerc, but the championship leader was able to match the Red Bull after making a pit stop for hard tires and Horner believes the two cars were actually very even in Miami.
“I think they are very closely matched, and I think it’s just trying to piece together the best race you can. Strategically we were very different to Ferrari here, they had a very high downforce (set-up), we were low downforce, and the set-up worked for us.
“I think [the set-up won it], I think we had just enough straight-line speed to be able to defend as well. I think we picked the right balance in terms of balance and straight-line speed.”