Christian Horner felt Max Verstappen’s victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix was ‘redemption’ for what happened to the Dutchman in the same race twelve months ago, where he was spun around by Esteban Ocon whilst on course for the win.
Horner, the Team Principal of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, said the team went into the race at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace with the sole objective of winning, and despite having to pass World Champion Lewis Hamilton twice on the road, Verstappen was able to dominate to take his third victory of 2019 and his eighth of his career.
“That was redemption for Max,” said Horner. “We went into the race with one objective today and that was to win. From the moment the lights went out, Max stormed into the lead and controlled the race brilliantly.
“Lewis pitted just before us and committed to a two-stop, then an unsafe release with the Williams cost Max the lead, but taking full advantage of his new tyres he immediately repassed Lewis. Thereafter Max controlled the race and the mechanics did a phenomenal job to turn the car around in 1.9s at the final pit stop.
“When the Safety Car came out we had the horrible decision of whether to pit from the lead, knowing the car behind would stay out. Our strategist Hannah made the recommendation to pit so we did and Max was once again able to repass Lewis.”
Horner says Alexander Albon can hold his head up high and be proud of his performance during the race despite the Thai driver seeing his chance of a maiden podium finish disappear on the penultimate lap after contact with Hamilton.
After some good passes, with his pass on Sebastian Vettel around the outside of turn one just after the safety car restart, Albon was in the hunt for a podium, and when Hamilton pitted for tyres with just a handful of laps remaining, he was promoted up to second.
However, on the penultimate lap, Hamilton made an optimistic move that ultimately saw the Briton’s left front-tyre and front wing clip the right rear wheel of Albon, a move that spun him around and relegated him to the back of the field and outside of the points.
“Alex drove another very strong race, going wheel to wheel with Ferrari and Mercedes,” said Horner. “He managed to pass Sebastian on the outside of Turn 1 and was also able to get ahead of Lewis who pitted at the final Safety Car.
“Unfortunately on the last lap, Lewis went for a gap that was rapidly diminishing and contact was made. That was a 1-2 finish for the Team and second place for Alex taken away, but nonetheless Alex has driven a great Grand Prix and he can leave Brazil with his head held high.”
Whereas Albon missed out on the podium, Scuderia Toro Rosso and former Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly made it by finishing second for his first top three result, something that Horner was pleased to see at the end of a strong weekend for the two Red Bull Honda-powered outfits.
“Finally, congratulations to Pierre who delivered a very strong weekend and it’s great to see him on the podium for the first time,” said Horner. “Overall, it’s been a really positive weekend for both Red Bull teams and Honda.”