Red Bull principal Christian Horner believes Carlos Sainz was on the edge with his defence at Monza, though it was what the team expected.
Despite Max Verstappen going for his 10th victory in a row, Sainz retained hope that he could go from pole to victory in front of the Tifosi.
And in the early stages it looked like his confidence was justified, Verstappen struggling to find a way to past the Spaniard for the lead, with the Ferrari SF-23 looking mighty in a straight line rather than the Red Bull RB19 on this occasion.
Red Bull won the “hard way” at Monza
Verstappen though was able to take the lead on Lap 15, one he never relinquished as Sergio Perez later passed the Ferrari pair to make it a Red Bull one-two.
“We had to do it the hard way,” Horner declared to Sky F1. “The Ferraris were very quick today and we saw that in qualifying yesterday.
“And Carlos was defending like his life depended on it, so first of all Max had to get that pass done and then we were able to pull out a gap and I think they were just a little bit harder on their tyres than we were.
“And Checo making some great moves to come through and get that one-two which of course gives Max now 10 victories in a row, which is breaking our record from Sebastian [Vettel] 10 years ago, which is an incredible moment.”
Horner was then pressed on Sainz’s defence, with Verstappen in the early stages having called it “naughty”.
The Red Bull boss admitted there were “a few comments raised” within the team over Sainz’s actions, with late and movement under braking mentioned, though Horner said they were prepared to face this kind of defensive driving from Ferrari.
“Carlos was very robust,” Horner added. “He was a little late at times. He moved a bit.
“I mean, look, he’s driving a Ferrari at Monza, he’s going to defend for his life, so we kind of expected it.
“And when both guys managed to get down the inside, they managed to make that move stick.”
As for how Ferrari were able to unlock such strong straight-line speed, considering it is Red Bull lauded for their super DRS, Horner suspects the combination of fresh power units, perhaps running at a higher level on home soil, went a long way to explaining that.
“They put new engines in this weekend,” said Horner, “fresh engines always have that little bit more punch.
“Maybe they ran it a bit harder because it’s Monza, but they were properly quick in the straights and even with the DRS it was very hard to pass them.”
Verstappen is now 145 points clear of Perez at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, while Red Bull have stretched their Constructors’ standings lead to 310 points.