Christian Horner ranks Aston Martin above Ferrari, Mercedes in Red Bull chasing pack

Sam Cooper
Christian Horner, Red Bull, talks to Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin. Netherlands, September 2021.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner talks to Aston Martin team chairman Lawrence Stroll. Netherlands, September 2021.

Christian Horner believes that after the Bahrain Grand Prix, it is Aston Martin who are closest to his Red Bull team.

The opening race of 2023 was the perfect weekend for Red Bull with the team securing a one-two in both qualifying and the race itself and doing so in a dominant fashion.

Max Verstappen took pole and never relinquished the lead as the RB19 looked particularly strong in terms of tyre degradation, allowing them to switch to a second set of softs while the rest of the grid had to opt for the hards.

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Although the race winner was decided early on, there was drama down the grid with Fernando Alonso beating out both Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton to take the final podium spot following Charles Leclerc’s retirement.

Alonso’s podium was the culmination of a week of hype surrounding the Aston Martin team as they took a step forward from their P7 Constructors’ finish last year.

Such was their performance that it had Horner believing they were the closest to Red Bull in terms of speed.

“They look very strong in the race today. It was enjoyable to see Fernando up there, it gives the 40-somethings hope that there’s life in the old boy yet,” the 49-year-old Horner told media including PlanetF1.com following the race. “He raced very well. I mean, he’s still so competitive and the Aston looks a good car.

“Based on the result of one race, you’d have to say they were the second strongest team here.”

While Aston may well be the second strongest team currently, they still remain some way off Red Bull who have emerged as everyone’s clear favourite including George Russell who predicted them to win all 23 races.

Horner was careful not to get too carried away and was quick to remind everyone that there is a long way to go in the season.

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“I think the problem is we’ve only got one data set, which is at this track. So we’re not taking anything for granted,” he said.

“Let’s see after Jeddah in two weeks, Melbourne after that. After we’ve got two or three circuits under our belt, we’ll get a much better picture of the strengths and weaknesses of our car and our opposition.

“23 races is a marathon. It’s about being consistent over the campaign. Today was a great start. We fully expect our rivals to come back hard in the future races.

“People have a very short memory in this business and you’re only as good as your last race. Today we’re heroes, tomorrow it could be Ferrari, it could be Mercedes, it could be Aston Martin.

“So I think none of us are getting carried away with the result. It’s the start of a marathon. The surface of this track is quite unique. Let’s just wait and see what happens in Jeddah and Melbourne and some of the other circuits before drawing too many conclusions.”