Christian Horner has ‘to thank Toto’ and his flexi-floor TD for Red Bull’s 1-2

Michelle Foster
Christian Horner at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hungaroring July 2022.

Christian Horner smiling with headphones on at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hungaroring July 2022.

Christian Horner has joked he should thank Toto Wolff for insisting on porpoising and flexi-floor technical directives after Red Bull romped to a 1-2 at the first race weekend in which the TD was in play.

Earlier this season Mercedes complaints about porpoising and the long-term impact it could have on their drivers’ health led to the FIA wanting to introduce a technical directive aimed at measuring the cars’ levels of oscillations.

In the process of putting that together, the FIA discovered that some teams may have been playing in a grey area in the regulations that allowed them to flex their floors by more than the allotted 2mm.

As such the FIA enforced TD39, which came into play at the Belgian Grand Prix, clarifying the wording surrounding the flexibility of the cars’ planks and skid blocks.

Mercedes were insistent that the new TD would have an impact on championship leaders Red Bull as well as Ferrari, George Russell saying after the Hungarian Grand Prix that there is “no doubt Ferrari and Red Bull have pushed the regulations in that regard”.

The Mercedes driver added that his team had respected it as “the regulation was intended”.

But despite Mercedes hoping TD39 would slow down Red Bull, it did anything but.

In the first race weekend in which it was in play, Max Verstappen raced his way from 14th on the grid to first at the chequered flag, beating his team-mate Sergio Perez by 17s.

Horner says he probably owes Wolff a thank you.

“On the face of it I’d probably have to thank Toto for the TD,” Horner told reporters at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. “In all seriousness, I think this circuit has played to our strengths.

“A lot was made and a lot of expectation was put on that TD, so perhaps it’s hurt others more than it’s hurt ourselves.

“We haven’t really changed the way we operate the car.

“Obviously, grounding here has always been an issue because of Eau Rouge, but that’s not unique to us that’s the same for every team.”

The team boss reckons a good RB18 coupled with a phenomenal driver in Verstappen was the key to what he bills as Red Bull’s “most dominant” performance since 2013.

“We have a very efficient car, we’ve found a very good set-up and Max has just been in phenomenal form the very first lap in first practice,” he said.

“Obviously, strategically we chose to take the penalty here and 14th became 13th technically as the starting point with everybody else.

“But of course Max still had to navigate his way through the pack and he did that very efficiently over the first couple of laps, so he hit the front far quicker than we could have ever expected and the soft tyre seemed to work for him as well in that stint.

“Thereafter the pace we had with Max and Checo was enough that he got past Carlos and bring home one of the most dominant performances that we’ve had as a team since either 2010 or 2013.”

Verstappen leads the Drivers’ Championship by 93 points ahead of Perez, Charles Leclerc is a further five off the pace.