Horner: Red Bull proved doubters wrong with upgrade plan

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, ahead of Sergio Perez. Italy, April 2022.

Max Verstappen ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez at Imola. Italy, April 2022.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner revealed that the team introduced an upgrade at Imola, and proved they were right to back themselves.

The first European round of a season is often prime time for a team to bring their first upgrade package of a season, but with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix being the first sprint race weekend of 2022, teams were put off from doing so due to the reduction in practice time.

Red Bull though went against the grain, a move which appeared to pay off as Max Verstappen comfortably took the victory, ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez in P2.

Ferrari, who opted not to bring a major upgrade, did not have the pace to deny Verstappen, Charles Leclerc suffering a costly spin as he chased Perez over P2, ultimately finishing P6, while Carlos Sainz was out on Lap 1 after receiving a hit from Daniel Ricciardo.

Asked if Red Bull needed that result after the disappointment of Australia, Horner told Sky F1: “Absolutely, we attacked the weekend, we brought a little upgrade.

“A lot of people said ‘you shouldn’t do that with only one practice session’ and we believed in ourselves and it paid off.

“I think we were unlucky in Australia a couple of weeks ago, but we came within one point of a maximum score here this weekend, so it’s a great fightback.

“It was quite a stressful race on the pit wall because of the changing conditions and there is a lot that can go wrong in those situations.

“But I thought both Max and Checo did an unbelievable job today.”

Starts and restarts had not been Red Bull’s strong suit in the sprint, but that situation turned around come the Grand Prix.

Horner was even more impressed with the start, as Verstappen kept the lead and Perez rose to P2, because they started on what seemed to be the slower side of the grid.

And after that, minus a trip over the grass for Perez as Leclerc harried, Horner saw it as a very impressive team performance.

“I think you learn from yesterday, both guys made great starts,” he said.

“That left-hand side of the grid if anything looked a little advantageous to the right-hand side so both Max and Checo got a great start and then it was a matter of controlling the race.

“There was one trip over the grass for Checo, but other than that, they had Charles under control.

“So just a wonderful team performance.”

Ferrari were first to pull the trigger on a switch to soft tyres for a third stint, that move ultimately backfiring as Leclerc spun on the attack.

Asked if Ferrari going to the softs was a surprise, knowing Red Bull could respond and take the fastest lap back anyway, Horner replied: “I think they were struggling with the front-right tyre.

“I think it was opening up and as we saw yesterday, I think they needed to pit, so we then had the buffer to be able to cover first with Checo then with Max.

“And the guys smashed out an incredible stop today, I think it might have gone quicker than what we’ve already achieved, so just all-round, not only trackside, but back in Milton Keynes, back at the factory, a wonderful team performance.”


Next up is a first trip to Miami for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, and Horner says it is all about keeping up the momentum for Red Bull.

“We’ve got to try to build on this momentum now,” he said.

“To get the pole position, win the race yesterday, win today, a one-two finish, our first since 2016, that’s a great result.”


Miami Grand Prix clear the final legal hurdle

A lawsuit to block the race in Miami filed by the local residents has been denied by the judge.