Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team principal, Christian Horner, has said that fourth place was the best result that his team could have achieved in qualifying for the German Grand Prix.
Despite looking competitive in Free Practice and the first two sections of qualifying, Max Verstappen faded out of the top three in Q3 but remains Red Bull’s best chance of a podium finish. His team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, only ran in Q1 and will start from last position tomorrow. Ricciardo’s RB14 has undergone numerous power unit component changes ahead of this weekend’s race as the team focus their attention towards next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, where they have a realistic chance of competing.
Horner explained the decision to keep Ricciardo in the garage, adding that not running in Q2 leaves the Australian with more flexibility regarding tyre choice.
“Unfortunately for Daniel his Qualifying in the dry conditions was never going to go past Q1,” Horner said.
“There was no point in burning tyres and engine mileage as he already had penalties that put him at the back of the grid tomorrow. We therefore took the strategic decision not to run his car in Q2 and provide him with more options tomorrow.”
Speaking about Verstappen’s session, Horner said that Red Bull’s gamble in Q2 to run the soft tyre did not work as intended. After the session was halted because of Marcus Ericsson dragging gravel over the racing line following a spin at Sachskurve, Verstappen rejoined the track on the ultra-soft compound. His best time on the softs would not have been good enough for a berth in Q3.
“Max, in progressing through Q2, aimed to get into Q3 on the soft tyre but the delta today between the two compounds was just too great to make it through,” he continued.
“We changed to the ultra-soft like our competitors and thereafter in Q3 Max drove two very impressive laps.”
The 44-year-old confirmed that Verstappen was the only car to take Turn 1 without blending off the throttle, proving the strength of Red Bull’s chassis, but lost time in sector 2 on the long back straight. This left the Dutchman confined to the second row of the grid, four-tenths of a second faster than fifth-placed Kevin Magnussen and six-tenths slower than polesitter Sebastian Vettel.
“On the last lap he was flat through Turn 1 and is the only car to achieve that so far this weekend. Unfortunately, the time loss in sector 2 was disproportionate so fourth was the maximum we could achieve today,” he said.
“Hopefully we can make progress in the race and I’m sure Daniel will also enjoy the challenge of coming through the field.”