Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner labelled qualifying for Formula 1’s Hungarian Grand Prix as “frustrating,” after securing a best result of seventh.
Widely expected to challenge for pole position, or at least a front-row starting slot with either Max Verstappen or Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull was instead left to rue a missed opportunity to challenge Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and Scuderia Ferrari.
Ricciardo only just progressed to the second segment of qualifying, after a switch to soft compound Pirelli’sinstead of the otherwise unanimously picked ultrasofts.
Being caught out by the track getting ever wetter in Q2, the Australian slumped to a Red Bull-career low of twelfth, after missing the optimum track conditions while the rain increased.
Team-mate Verstappen also struggled for pace in the wet conditions. Despite making the Q3 pole position shootout, qualified a lowly seventh, behind both Mercedes and Ferrari drivers, Carlos Sainz, Jr. and Pierre Gasly.
“[It was] a frustrating qualifying for us today,” reflected Horner.
“The rain, which began before qualifying and fluctuated throughout the sessions, created challenging conditions. After navigating safely through Q1, Daniel, unfortunately, had to abandon his lap on the Intermediate tyres following [Lance] Stroll’s spin.
“Thereafter conditions worsened, necessitating extreme tyres and he could not improve on his lap time, eliminating him.”
While Verstappen ‘looked strong in Q3,’ Horner added that a lack of grip from the RB14 played a part in the poor result.
“Max initially looked strong in Q3 but as the rain again increased, track conditions and visibility worsened and the grip wasn’t there for him to challenge the leading times,” he explained.
Despite the poor performance, Horner was optimistic that Red Bull could still score a strong result.
“P7 and P12 are not where we would hope to start tomorrow’s grand prix,” he said. “In dry conditions our race pace has looked competitive through the weekend, so we hope we can take advantage and progress through the field.
“As we saw today the weather can change quickly here too so it could yet be a very interesting race.”