Revealed: How Sebastien Buemi helped inspire Red Bull’s strong turnaround at Imola

Henry Valantine
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez.

Red Bull had help from back at base in their quest for victory at Imola.

Christian Horner credited former Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi for his help in improving Red Bull’s fortunes at Imola, with Max Verstappen taking a narrow victory on Sunday.

The three-time World Champion had struggled in practice compared to the McLaren and Ferrari drivers, but qualified on pole and took victory after significant work went on behind the scenes at Red Bull to help bring the car into an optimal operating window.

Christian Horner: Sebastien Buemi helped Red Bull with Imola turnaround

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Having driven for Toro Rosso for three seasons, Buemi’s career has flourished in other series – winning the Formula E title as well as four World Endurance Championships with Toyota, taking top honours at Le Mans four times on the way.

He has remained with Red Bull as a reserve and simulator driver along the way, and was on hand back at base to help run setup changes with the team as they looked for ways forward after two troublesome Friday practice sessions.

Verstappen in particular then turned his fortunes around to place his car on pole position and led comfortably for most of the race, before Lando Norris closed right back up in the final stages and finished under a second behind come the chequered flag.

While it was a close margin of victory, it was a win nonetheless – and Horner was thankful for those who helped make it possible.

When asked for what it was that helped Red Bull turn their weekend around in Imola, Horner told media including with a smile: “Sebastien Buemi. We did a lot of work on set up over Friday night into Saturday, and managed to move the balance and get the car into a much better window.

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“As I say, for 60% of the race, we were comfortably anywhere between six and eight seconds clear of the rest.

“It was just the second half of that stint on the very hard tyre that we started to give away performance.

“It was a big dive [in performance], and that’s where you must never underestimate the support that comes from the broader team in the factory, the simulator drivers.

“And credit where credit’s due, the essence of ‘team’ is being able to respond to when things aren’t going well, and I think we managed to turn it around.

“If you’d have expected this result on Friday, all your analysis would have said ‘no way’, but we managed to turn it around and win the race.”

Verstappen’s World Championship lead has extended to 48 points after his win at Imola, with Charles Leclerc having moved up to second place in the standings after finishing third on Sunday.

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