Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has mixed emotions over qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix with both cars starting on the third row, but missing out on fighting for third place after a mishap in the final seconds of the session.
Red Bull’s latest recruit Pierre Gasly made his first Qualifying 3 appearance with his new team and managed to earn a sixth place grid slot for the race on Sunday. Team-mate Max Verstappen will start from fifth place but both results could have been different for the two drivers.
In the final seconds of qualifying, both Red Bull cars missed out on the chance to set one final lap after both Verstappen and Gasly failed to cross the line before time expired. The conundrum that occurred affected Verstappen dearly, who was in the hunt for a potential third place slot.
Horner reflected on the team’s qualifying results, seeing both positive and negative side of the result from both Red Bull cars.
“Qualifying was frustrating for the Team in one respect and positive in another,” commented Horner.
“It’s encouraging to have both cars on the third row, particularly for Pierre who equals his best F1 qualifying position but frustrating that we couldn’t fight for third.”
The incident in question came at the final hairpin of the 3.38 mile circuit, where Verstappen was in between both Scuderia Ferrari cars. Sebastian Vettel then passed Verstappen to commence his last attempt for pole position whilst Verstappen waited to build a gap from the German to start his run.
As Verstappen was doing this, both Renault cars stormed pass and caught the Dutch driver out. This stopped both Verstappen and Gasly in starting a lap time as they both saw the chequered flag before crossing the start line.
As a result, both cars lost out as the Mercedes AMG and Ferrari cars improved on their times, demoting Verstappen down to fifth and sharing the third row with his team-mate.
Horner gives his views on the events that occurred in Shanghai, adding that despite the mishap he remains optimistic over having a strong race on Sunday.
“With both cars having progressed through to Q3, Max and Pierre set the fourth and sixth fastest times respectively after their first run.
“Max then got himself into a good position between the two Ferraris for the final run but unfortunately as things got backed up at the last hairpin, he was passed by Sebastian. He then tried to make a gap to Seb and was passed by both Renaults.
“By that time he had lost sufficient time that he missed the cut-off and was first to see the chequered flag. Unfortunately, that concertina also hampered Pierre, resulting in both cars missing the final run.
“The gap to the front runners is significantly smaller than it was in Bahrain and we can have a strong race from here.”