Horner: Hamilton not that much quicker than us

Mark Scott
Max Verstappen Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Red Bull

Red Bull boss Christian Horner was left pondering what could have been in Imola after watching Max Verstappen suddenly exit the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The Dutchman had passed the damaged car of Valtteri Bottas to climb up to P2 and was in pursuit of race leader Lewis Hamilton before one of his tyres suddenly decided to go pop.

It ensured Verstappen left with a total points haul of zero from three Italian races in the 2020 campaign and Horner reckons the latest DNF may have even cost his star driver a chance at victory.

“Sometimes you get the rub of the green,” Horner told Channel 4. “But luck works for you sometimes and goes against you on other occasions.

“Lewis was incredibly lucky with the virtual safety car and it’s painful to see that [Max Verstappen’s retirement]. That was a guaranteed second place and we had the pace to obviously beat a damaged Bottas car.

“But I didn’t feel Hamilton was that much quicker than us. I think it would have been very hard to catch and pass him but we were able to maintain doing the same pace [as him] on tyres that were a little older.

“So that’s some encouragement we will have to take from this race.”

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With Verstappen out of the picture, Mercedes were able to coast home to yet another 1-2 and bag a record seventh consecutive Constructors’ Championship in the process.

Horner passed on his congratulations to Mercedes and said Red Bull are “doing the best” they can to try and stop their incredible winning run.

“All you can say is hats off to Mercedes,” Horner added.

“The amount of effort that goes on behind the scenes back in Brixworth and Brackley…they’ve done an amazing job. They’ve set the bar incredibly high and that is the benchmark currently in Formula 1.

“They achieved a great result and very much deserve their success. It’s our challenge to make life a little harder for them, we’re doing the best we can.

“We tried to split the two Mercedes cars [in Imola] but unfortunately an instantaneous puncture took him out of the race.”

Hamilton’s win also officially brought an end to Red Bull’s quest to make Verstappen the youngest World Champion in Formula 1 history.

Only Bottas can now mathematically catch Hamilton.

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