Christian Horner on the one thing that has caught him by surprise so far

Michelle Foster
Red Bull Christian Horner on the pitwall at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Jeddah, March 2023.

Red Bull's Christian Horner on the pitwall at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Jeddah, March 2023.

Christian Horner admits Red Bull’s advantage over their rivals caught even him unaware, the team boss saying it was unexpected.

Red Bull have dominated the start of the 2023 championship with their hat-trick of wins, which included back-to-back 1-2 results in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The team has also bagged all three pole positions and two of the season’s fastest lap points, racing out to a 58-point advantage over Aston Martin in the Constructors’ Championship.

But it’s not just Red Bull’s run of P1s that has rivals worried, it’s the RB19’s speed advantage especially in race trim with reports their DRS alone is worth two to three tenths per lap more than anyone else’s when activated.

Crushing the opposition in Bahrain and again in Saudi Arabia with winning margins of 38 and 15s respectively over the third-placed car of Aston Martin, even Horner admits he’s surprised by Red Bull’s early season supremacy. recommends

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“At times, in all honesty, yes,” Horner told per Fox Sports when asked if he was surprised by the gap.

“We see that some teams have made a step forward and some haven’t.”

But it is a gap Horner doesn’t believe Red Bull will maintain for very long.

The team boss has previously spoken about how Red Bull need to capitalise on it while they still have it, the Briton convinced Red Bull’s rivals will close in.

“I’m sure it’s going to ebb and flow,” he said, “but we’re hopeful that we can extract more performance from the car.

“So we need to make hay while the sun shines at the moment while we’ve got a competitive car, and just keep pushing through the season.”

He’s also wary that Red Bull’s wind tunnel restrictions will have an impact as the season progresses. Red Bull were docked 10 percent of their R&D time for breaching the 2021 budget cap leaving them with just 63% of the allotted time given they were already restricted for having won the 2022 Constructors’ title.

“Of course as the season progresses and we run out of wind tunnel time,” he said, “the others will still have that available and our lead will then melt away.

“That’s why it’s extremely important that we take the points with us now.”

Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur recently criticised Red Bull’s penalty as the Frenchman feels it was “very light” when one considers Red Bull’s advantage.

“If you consider that basically we will improve a bit less than a second over the season in terms of aero, you get a penalty of 10 per cent of this, it’s one tenth, and as it’s not a linear progression it’s probably less.

“And then you can spend what you are saving on the wind tunnel somewhere else — on the weight saving and so on.

“I’m not sure that the effect is mega.”

Horner responded to that telling his Ferrari counterpart that it’s all about how one uses the time allotted.

“Like anything, it’s how you use it,” Horner said. “We’ve got a limited amount of aero time. We’re almost six months through since the penalty started, and of course it’s not just this year’s car it affects, it’s next year’s as well.

“But one would assume, up to the point that it’s reset mid-season, Aston have got a lot of research time available to them. So, again, it’s how you utilise it — and certainly within the confines of the budget cap as well now.”