Christian Horner endured a mixed Australian Grand Prix weekend as Team Principal of Red Bull Racing after seeing Max Verstappen finish fifth but Daniel Ricciardo retire on Sunday.
Ricciardo endured the kind of day he really did not want in front of his home fans, with a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change following his qualifying crash being followed by a stoppage on the way to the grid due to a sensor issue, and despite joining the race two laps down after speedy work from his mechanics, the Australian was then forced to retire with an engine-related issue.
“A really frustrating start to the race with Daniel having a problem with what looks like a sensor on the gearbox stopping the car in sixth gear on the formation lap,” said Horner. “It was an unbelievable recovery from the mechanics to get him into the race, nobody gave up in working to get the car out there.
“Then we were always going to be relying on safety cars to get back on to the lead lap. We decided to put the mileage in and get the knowledge anyway. Unfortunately on lap 28 he encountered another issue with a fuel cell that we need to look at to understand it fully.”
Horner believes the call to switch Verstappen to the Supersoft tyre at his pit stop was the correct one, and although he was unable to get close enough to make a move on Kimi Raikkonen for fourth, he felt the Dutchman drove a strong race.
“Max made a good start and even though he was able to have a go at Kimi, unfortunately he didn’t have the line for turn 3 but he never gave up, didn’t put a wheel wrong all afternoon and drove a very mature race,” said Horner.
“I think strategically we picked the right tyre for the pit stop and he did everything that could have been asked of him. He had some brake wear to manage in the last three laps but fifth position today was the optimum result.”