Christian Horner clarifies Red Bull team order position after communication breakdown
Christian Horner has explained how events actually unfolded in Jeddah as Red Bull managed the closing stages of another dominant race.
Both Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen were nursing problems at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on their way to securing a 1-2 finish on Sunday night.
Perez had concerns over a long brake pedal and Verstappen reported he was experiencing the same vibrations which caused his driveshaft problems during the Q2 session on Saturday.
When asked by Red Bull to manage his pace and essentially bring the car home, Perez questioned whether the same information had been relayed to Verstappen in second place as he ate into the Mexican’s lead.
Perez would return to this point during his post-race media sessions, calling for an internal review of the communication process after being left confused over what the overall plan was between the two Red Bull drivers.
Horner, however, whilst explaining the timeline of events from his perspective, feels Perez asked the team some very “normal” questions over team radio and there was nothing to be alarmed about.
“There’s always going to be that when you’re the lead car,” Horner said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“You always want to know that the tail car has hit the target first. So that’s entirely normal. I think for us as a team, we were concerned about if there was a reliability issue, how do we manage that?”
The Red Bull boss went on to say there was no team orders at any point during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with both drivers free to race each other again once it was clear there was no real concern over the reliability gremlins.
“Once we saw there was no issue that we could see in the data, it was a question of letting them get on with it, and then basically both managing the last five laps.
“The only debates about managing the pace was when the issue with the driveshaft became prevalent.
“At that point think ‘okay, let’s turn down both cars’. But as soon as it became clear that we couldn’t see anything in the data, we released the cars again.
Horner would add to Sky F1: “We talked about [team orders] in a briefing that you’re free to race, but you keep it clean.”
Verstappen did manage to steal the fastest lap point from Perez to ensure he retained hold of the World Championship lead heading into round three in Australia.
Again, this is something else that Horner isn’t particularly concerned about and it is also worth nothing Perez did try to wrestle the point back on the final lap before aborting his attempt.
PlanetF1.com’s recommended reading
Martin Brundle ‘quietly pleased’ driveshaft issue put Max Verstappen P15 on grid
Ted Kravitz thinks all eyes will be on Red Bull ‘with 20mph straight-line speed advantage’
Nico Rosberg critical of Max Verstappen’s attitude over RB19 reliability issues
Horner said: “Well, I think we came to the conclusion that you know what, it’s the last lap. If he’s going to go, he’s going to go.
“So I think he’d already come to that conclusion himself. Both drivers had the info. Checo had the fastest lap at that point, he asked what it was.
“So it was obvious why he was asking. He knew that Max was going to have a crack at it. And Checo gave it up after the first couple of turns, he was already a tenth and a half down, and then you saw him back out of it.
“I think that you pass the message on to the driver, of course the team’s interest is to maximise the points and at whatever point you feel that you may have a reliability issue then you obviously manage that.
“I think inevitably Max said on the radio the point for the fastest lap meant a great deal to him and there was no reason for us not to let either he or Checo have a crack at it.”
Verstappen heads to Melbourne with 44 points to his name after the first two races, one point clear of team-mate Perez.