Christian Horner believes Mercedes’ DAS system was a factor in Lewis Hamilton’s excellent restart from the Safety Car period during the Eifel Grand Prix.
Hamilton was leading the race comfortably at the Nurburgring from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen when the Safety Car was deployed while Lando Norris’ stricken McLaren was removed from the side of the circuit following an engine failure.
Upon the restart, the World Champion appeared to catch Verstappen napping somewhat, preventing the Dutchman from making a challenge and even having to hold off an attack from Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault.
Verstappen was never able to make up the lost ground and eventually finished 4.47sec behind Hamilton in second, having pulled 10 seconds clear of Ricciardo in third.
For this season, Mercedes introduced the Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system, a main benefit of which is to warm the tyres in situations such as when the Safety Car is on track. This driver aid will be outlawed from next year.
Horner is convinced it came into its own at the Nurburgring, where track temperatures were lower than they have been at any Formula 1 race for years.
“The safety car waited until the field caught up. It was very slow. The tyre temperature was therefore a problem. And because of the DAS system, Mercedes can perhaps handle it better than us,” explained the Red Bull team principal, quoted by Motorsport-total.com.
Despite never quite being able to challenge Mercedes in the race, Verstappen was a contender for pole position in qualifying before starting P3 and Horner thought it was a grand prix which indicated Red Bull are narrowing the gap to the World Champions.
“Overall, it was a strong weekend,” said Horner. “That’s definitely encouraging, especially since there were sections where we were equal to or even faster than Mercedes.
“And there are still a few more races to come this year. Portimao, Istanbul, Imola are all tracks that should be quite interesting for us and we want to end the season on a high.
“The gap we measure ourselves to is Mercedes and that’s what we have to work hard to reduce and ultimately get ahead of.”