We had a “better strategy” than Ferrari said Red Bull boss Christian Horner after Max Verstappen beat Charles Leclerc to P4 in the Chinese GP.
Ferrari would use team orders throughout Formula 1’s 1000th race, with their decisions costing Leclerc.
The Dutchman had a brief glimpse of the podium, but Sebastian Vettel managed to fight off the attempted undercut and claim P3.
However, Horner believes that Red Bull’s strategy calls were better than Ferraris throughout the race.
“I think we had a good strategy. We managed to nick a place from Ferrari – I think they were quicker but our strategy was better and Max has driven the wheels off the car,” he explained.
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) April 14, 2019
The team pitted Pierre Gasly late in the race who was under no threat from behind in P6, allowing him to take the fastest lap and an extra point from Vettel.
Horner praised this decision as an inspired call from the team, arguing that “points mean prizes”.
“It was good to nick the fastest lap off Sebastian for Pierre,” he stated.
“Points mean prizes, and at the end of the year they all add up, it was a free opportunity to go for the lap time for Pierre.”
Marked improvements in the RB15’s chassis and a power increase from Honda were claimed by Horner, and with further upgrades to come, he hopes for more improvements in the Austrian team’s future.
“I think we had a good weekend here – the chassis made a good step forward, Honda made progress on the straights, there’s stuff in the pipeline that will help us with the sector three power with that in the near future,” he added.
Verstappen joined in the praise of Red Bull’s undercut strategy on Ferrari, while recalling his “fun” battle with Vettel.
“It was not an easy race but as a team we did a really good job today. We planned a good strategy to undercut a Ferrari and stay ahead, so we definitely maximised the result to finish fourth ahead of Charles,” he said.
“I had a good battle with Seb when he came out of the pits on colder tyres which was good fun. That was my one shot and I tried but after that you could see that we didn’t quite have the pace to fight him to the end.”
Gasly had his best finish with Red Bull to date with P6, and while he wants to improve quicker, he knows that he must be satisfied with any positive steps.
“I’m slowly getting more confident, I think we take one step every weekend but of course I would like to take three every time,” he said.
“I’m happy to score my first fastest lap in F1. We saw that we had quite a big margin behind us in the last few laps, so we decided to go for it and have an extra pit stop which worked.”