The Red Bull team principal said that of any race in the first half of the year, Monaco would be the team’s ‘biggest challenge’ thanks to its low-speed nature.
Luckily, thanks to intelligent tyre changes and expert handling from Verstappen, the team brought home a win after a rainy and chaotic race.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the race, Horner said: “(I was) nervous from about the moment the red light came on, because when you pull the covers off and you can see quite a few of them were on the hard tyre you go, ‘Ok, there’s rain around, they can go far enough if the mediums degrade.’
“But the first thing was to convert the start and Max did that, and then it was a question of, ‘Ok, let’s try and build a bit of a gap, and get a safety car windows to the cars behind and then just try and hang it out and see what the weather does.’”
Horner: Every driver wants Monaco on their CV
The team principal told Sky Sports pundit Naomi Schiff that succeeding at Monaco always means ‘a little bit more’ than other races thanks to its history and iconic reputation.
He said: “All the races have the same points but this one just means a little bit more. I mean, I mean nearly 80-odd years of racing around here and it's always so special to to win here.
“Everything's a bit unique here and that grid was completely nuts before the race, but big win, every driver wants this race on their CV.”
Horner: We were on the ropes
Despite taking the win, Horner said the team were concerned about a tight race until Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin pitted to take a medium tyre rather than an intermediate, shortly before having to come back in for gripper tyres in the rainy weather.
He said of the Red Bull pit stop plan and the unexpected rain: “It’s about the engineer working with the driver and trying to get the crossover, and it felt like maybe we got a lap too long on before going on to the inters.
“I think had Fernando (put on) the inter, it would have been much tighter… but thankfully he took the slick tyre just as the rain was going and so at that point, it’s like, ‘Max, don’t take any risks, just get into the pits.’”
He also explained why he saw Monaco as the team’s greatest challenge in the first half of the season.
Horner explained: “I think we were on the ropes… we knew going into this weekend that this is gonna be our biggest challenge in the first half of the year, and the low-speed nature (of the race) playing to others’ strengths.
“We actually thought Ferrari might be the main opponent but you know, Fernando's just been on fire all weekend. I mean, unbelievable.”
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