Horner: Leclerc spin cost Max ‘three or four tenths’

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, in the Silverstone paddock. England, June 2022.

At Silverstone, Carlos Sainz claimed his first career F1 pole position – but without the other Ferrari spinning, could it have gone to Max Verstappen?

That is what Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes, Verstappen’s team boss explaining the yellow flags triggered by Charles Leclerc’s Q3 spin had forced Verstappen to lift off, losing up to four tenths of a second in the process.

Verstappen ultimately fell short of Sainz’s pole time by only 0.072s.

Asked by Sky Sports F1 if that had been a pole position that got away, Horner replied: “Yeah, I mean, Charles had like a half spin, Max lifted for the yellow [flags] and I think he gave up about three or four tenths for it.

“But congratulations to Carlos, he’s always been a demon in the wet when he was a junior for us. He was always very strong in these kinds of conditions. So congrats to him, and just pleased to be on the front row with Checo [Perez] up there on the second row as well.”

Verstappen certainly did not have a clean Q3 in his own right, losing his first flying lap after spinning, while his second also featured a trip into the run-off area.

Horner though explained it is Verstappen’s way to search for the limit, revealing the World Championship leader somehow only lost two seconds by spinning.

Speaking about Verstappen’s Q3 dramas, Horner said: “He didn’t lose any laps but had one moment where he did a 180 and he only lost two seconds as he crossed the line. That was the ridiculous thing about it.

“It wasn’t really part of the plan, but Max likes to find the limit and it was just a shame we didn’t get that last lap, but to still end up on the front row after a tricky session like that is a good place to be.”

And with Horner explaining Red Bull typically run with less downforce than their rivals, he feels it makes Verstappen securing P2 on the grid and Perez P4 even more impressive.

“We tend to definitely run probably a set down on where the other guys are and that tends to work better for us in the race,” said Horner.

“So in these conditions, without that downforce is pretty tricky around here. So I think both guys did a great job. And it was unfortunate with the yellow [flags], one of those things, but I think it will make an interesting race tomorrow.”

Looking ahead to the race, Horner explained it is hard for anyone to make predictions about their long-run pace, FP1 having featured very limited running due to rain showers at different parts of the circuit.

But with so many dynamics having the potential to crop up in the race, including perhaps more rain, Horner says the British Grand Prix really will be a trip into the unknown.

“I think everyone had a long run of about four laps yesterday,” he said. “So it’s a bit of an unknown, but with Checo in there as well there are so many dynamics to it, and I think if it’s a straight dry race then strategy and tyre deg and so on will be crucial.

“This year we’ve seen these cars can follow closer, which will be crucial through Beckett’s and, of course, the beautiful British summer might just continue tomorrow as well.”