Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says he does not expect any tension from his drivers after both went after the fastest lap at the end of last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen set the fastest lap by 0.2s over Sergio Perez’s earlier attempt on the final lap of the race in Jeddah, and Perez later claimed he was told to drive to a set lap time and not try and better his benchmark. The extra point keeps Verstappen one marker ahead of his teammate in the early drivers’ championship standings, but Horner was comfortable with how the situation played out.
“We came to the conclusion that it’s the last lap, if it’s going to go, it’s going to go,” Horner said. “I think [Max had] already come to that conclusion himself. Both drivers had the info, Checo had the fastest lap at that point, he asked what it was, so it was obvious why he was asking. He knew that Max was going to have a crack at it, and Checo gave it up after the first couple of turns, he was already a tenth and a half down, and then you saw him back out of it.
“You pass the message on to the driver. Of course the team interest is to maximize the points, and at whatever point you feel you may have a reliability issue, then you obviously manage that. I think inevitably, as Max said on the radio, the point for the fastest lap meant a great deal to him, and there was no reason for us to not let either he or Checo have a crack at it.”
While Perez focused on the fastest lap incident post-race, Horner insisted it shouldn’t detract from what he believes was the Mexican’s greatest drive for the team.
“Once we got to the last five laps and it was clear that Max wasn’t going to catch up, then they came out of it and drove to a lap time,” he said.
“The biggest point of concern for us during the grand prix was when Max radioed in, I think with about 15 laps to go, saying he could hear a high-pitched noise at high speed. So your heart immediately sinks, thinking about the driveshaft failure (from qualifying). But checking all the data that we have here, everything that they could see back in Milton Keynes, all the parameters we had looked OK and obviously, then they pushed on again. But an amazing recovery, 15th to second.
“And I would say arguably that was Checo’s best grand prix, to be honest with you. Well-managed, he had the pace, and the two guys, particularly after the Safety Car, were pushing flat out. So you could see the relative pace to the rest of the field at that point was remarkable.”