Christian Horner has said work Alex Albon did in the simulator during the Monaco GP race weekend was key to Red Bull’s success there.
Key to the Dutchman’s win was the fact he qualified in P2 and effectively started on pole after Charles Leclerc was not able to start the race.
Horner says Verstappen was struggling after the first day of practice but simulation work from Albon, now the test and reserve driver, turned that around to help the team find a better set-up.
“We were not in great shape on Thursday in Monaco and Max was not particularly happy with the car,” the team principal said in his column.
“But the work behind the scenes, the work Alex has been putting in on the sim, all helped to turn it around for Saturday.
“We made some good set-up changes, got Max and Checo a lot happier with the car and Max was obviously gutted to miss out on pole with the red flag.
“We all went into Saturday evening a little frustrated because we all knew how difficult it would be to overtake, but Ferrari’s misfortune turned into our good fortune and it was important for us to convert the opportunity.
“We are only five races in, there is still a huge amount of distance to cover this season but a win in Monaco puts a spring in everyone’s step.”
Great team work today, strategy, pitstops. We had a great pace and were able to minimize the damage from the lousy qualy.
Plenty of work still to be done to improve on Saturdays, but we’re still making progress!
Great day for the whole team, well done @Max33Verstappen pic.twitter.com/IgdVJzLjYq
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) May 23, 2021
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The set-up changes did not help Perez, the man who replaced Albon, to enjoy a good Saturday though as he could only claim P9.
His Sunday was much better as he had excellent pace throughout and fought his way up to P4, only just missing out on his first podium for the team.
Looking at the performance, Horner believes it will not be long until the Mexican not only makes the podium but is standing on the top step of it.
“Checo did a great job on Sunday and his race pace has been fantastic this year, but it shows that if he has a clean Saturday and qualifies in a good position, he will be right up there in the fight for podiums and wins,” he added.
“It’s just down to spending time in the car and growing in confidence. It’s a case of working it out over a single lap and that will come.
“Even when he drove for me in Formula 2, he always delivered in the race and had great awareness of the tyres and never shied away from an overtake.
“Sergio will play a key role in this championship and it’s important we have him driving as he did in Monaco – taking points away from Lewis and profiting from Valtteri’s bad luck.
“I don’t think it will be long before he is standing on the top of the podium either.”