‘Mercedes party mode more like afternoon tea’

Mark Scott
Christian Horner Red Bull

Christian Horner has acknowledged Max Verstappen had to “buy into” the tyre gamble that gave him the platform to win the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has said compared Mercedes’ ‘party mode’ to a spot of “afternoon tea” in the midst of a Ferrari revival.

Ferrari, on a winning streak of three races, have topped two of the three practice sessions ahead of the Russian Grand Prix with Charles Leclerc quickest in FP1 and Fp3.

The Scuderia are showing their strength in the first two sectors, while Mercedes seemingly cannot claw enough time back through the technical third sector, especially on one-lap pace.

Asked for his thoughts about the events of FP3 and the current pecking order ahead of qualifying, Horner firmly believes Ferrari are the team to beat again this weekend.

“I think Ferrari have got to be odds-on for pole,” Horner told Sky Sports F1 after FP3 in Sochi.

“We didn’t manage to get a lap in on the soft tyre [in third practice] but hopefully we can get quite close to the Mercedes. It looks pretty tight.

“I think Mercedes’ party [mode] is more of like an afternoon tea now compared to what Ferrari have up their sleeves.

“Of course you cannot write them off as look at what they have done but Ferrari are definitely the benchmark at the moment.”

Max Verstappen had a tricky FP3 session after going airborne over the kerb at Turn 2 and gently nudging his rear wing into the barrier at Turn 14 but Horner is unconcerned about the incidents.

“It was the lightest of touches,” he added. “We will do all the precautionary stuff that we need to do though, so we will have a good look at it.

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