Christian Horner sheds light on ‘nagging question’ Red Bull answered in Japan

Thomas Maher
Red Bull's Max Verstappen on track during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen on track during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Red Bull came away from Japan satisfied they had gotten an answer to a question mark raised from their subpar Singapore weekend.

Red Bull showed up in Singapore with a new floor specification for their RB19, aimed at producing more camber in the leading edge of the floor, in order to help with producing more local aerodynamic load.

But, after a tough Friday and Saturday practice in which both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez struggled with the car bottoming out as well as rear instability, Red Bull reverted to their usual floor specification for the remainder of the Singapore weekend.

Christian Horner: Red Bull wanted to eliminate a variable

Red Bull’s fortunes hardly improved in qualifying, with both drivers eliminated in Q2 before a tough race on Sunday that resulted in the first Red Bull-free podium of the season.

With Singapore being the race weekend to end Red Bull’s dominance in 2023, coinciding with the introduction of a technical directive aimed at tightening up the flexibility of bodywork and aero joints, all eyes were thus on the RB19s in Japan.

Verstappen duly proved that Singapore had been a one-off, taking a dominant pole position on Saturday before scarpering off into the distance to win by just under 20 seconds from Lando Norris on Sunday.

With Red Bull having used their new specification floor once again in Japan, Horner was asked whether the floor had produced the performance level expected of it, and why the need to remove it in Singapore if it worked so well in Japan.

“It did what was expected,” he said.

“To be honest, I think in Singapore, we just wanted to eliminate a variable.

“Nobody actually believed it was the floor that was the issue. We just wanted to not come away from Singapore with that nagging question.”

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Given that Singapore was a genuine eye-opener for Red Bull as they were beaten firmly on pace by several teams, Horner said he couldn’t rule out the possibility of there being another difficult weekend between now and the end of the year – particularly if the setup isn’t nailed down in the one practice session available at several of the races.

“I honestly don’t know,” he admitted.

“It’s impossible to predict. I mean, obviously, Brazil was a struggle for us last year.

“We’ve got a lot of sprint races coming up now, almost every other race is a sprint race. You get one session to sort your car out and that can put huge pressure that, if you don’t get quite in the right window after that P1 – if you have a bit of rain or a compromised session – that can make it very tricky.

“So that could be an interesting factor from the next race.”

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