Christian Horner makes 2024 prediction that will encourage F1 rivals

Michelle Foster
Christian Horner on the pit wall. Baku, April 2023.

Christian Horner on the pit wall. Baku, April 2023.

Christian Horner believes Saturday’s Sprint Shootout timesheet bodes well for Formula 1’s future with four teams separated by just 0.101s at the Circuit of The Americas.

Both qualifying sessions at the United States Grand Prix were close affairs with Max Verstappen’s hopes of a double pole position undone by a track limit violation on Friday.

Had his time in qualifying stood, he would’ve been on pole by 0.005s ahead of Charles Leclerc with Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton a further 0.14s down.

Four drivers separated by a tenth in COTA Shootout

But it didn’t, the Dutchman given a second chance at topping a qualifying session in Saturday’s Shootout where he clinched P1 by 0.055s ahead of Leclerc.

Hamilton and Norris, third and fourth, were less than 0.05s down on the Ferrari.

It was the closest qualifying sessions of the season between four drivers, and one that Horner believes bodes well for next year’s championship as Red Bull’s rivals seek to chase them down.

“It definitely makes it a lot tighter, and it definitely makes those margins and you have to really rely on your data a lot more,” the Red Bull team boss told Sky F1 of the closely-contested Shootout.

“So the amount of simulations you’re running in a race is, you know, there’s a lot more intensity on that.

“But it’s going to happen. I mean when you go stable regulations, the cars and the teams will converge, so I think this is a precursor to what we’ll see next year where it’s a much tighter field.”

But while Verstappen had competition over a single flying lap when it came to the longer stuff, the Sprint, he was again in a league of his own.

After a brief challenge from Hamilton on the opening lap, the Dutchman broke out of DRS range and went on to cross the line over nine seconds ahead of the Mercedes driver.

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Verstappen is intent on adding a second win for the weekend to his tally on Sunday even though he’ll be lining up sixth on the grid.

“It’s not ideal to start P6 but the pace of the car is still quite strong and hopefully with high fuel we can do something similar. It’s one thing to be fast but another to get by a few cars,” said Verstappen.

“With the degradation around here, it’s not going to be straightforward and trying to follow through the high-speed. We have a race on our hands.”

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