Disrupted race made it impossible to challenge Mercedes - Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the red flag delay and two safety car periods made it impossible to challenge Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes for victory in Bahrain on Sunday.
The team got both cars on the podium for the first time since Japan 2017, but Horner was left wondering what might have been for second-placed Max Verstappen had the race run at full pace for its entire 57 laps.
“Lewis was just a bit too quick,” said Horner. “Losing the first eight laps under safety cars and red flags went from what could have been an optimal three-stop race more towards a two-stop.
“The field didn’t spread out as much as you would have wanted in the first stint because losing those eight laps, if we’d have pitted, we would have pitted into traffic. I’m not sure what else we could have done.
“I think that if we had pitted a bit earlier, on the first stop, we would have had a couple of cars to pass and we wouldn’t’ have been within the undercut. So, unfortunately, Mercedes just had that little bit too much pace and tyre life.”
After starting on soft tyres, the team considered a gamble on taking the second start on hard tyres and running a two-stop race, using two new sets of hard tyres, but Horner said that would not have worked.
“We looked at that but we were concerned about the start performance and starting on the dirty side of the grid at the restart we were concerned we might give up further places rather than gain,” he said.
Alex Albon was considerably off Verstappen’s pace but made it home in third after Sergio Perez’s Racing Point ground to a halt just three laps from the finish, handing the under-pressure driver a lucky podium.
Horner praised the Thai-British driver for his performance, particularly after he had crashed heavily in practice on Friday, destroying his car and leaving his mechanics with work to do to get him into qualifying and the race.
“Alex drove a good race,” added Horner. “Sergio was unlucky, Alex benefitted from his misfortune. I think that’s what we’re needing to see from Alex.
“His recovery from Friday was strong after the off he had, he qualified fourth and was there to capitalise on Sergio’s misfortune, he finished on the podium, so it was a good day for Alex.”
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