Christian Horner felt Oracle Red Bull Racing were lucky that neither Charles Leclerc nor Carlos Sainz Jr. pitted when the safety car was deployed at the Miami International Autodrome on Sunday, with Max Verstappen going on to claim his third victory of the season.
Verstappen had passed Sainz at the start and then Leclerc on lap nine to take over the lead in the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, but the safety car was deployed late in the race following a crash between Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris that left the latter stranded on the track with damage.
However, neither of the Scuderia Ferrari drivers pitted, allowing Verstappen to be able to defend from Leclerc on used hard tyres rather than fresher medium or soft compound tyres.
“It was a real tactical race today and we threw everything we had at it,” said Horner, the Team Principal at Red Bull. “We were quite lucky that Ferrari didn’t pit under the safety car.
“Max was under so much pressure from Charles Leclerc but he kept focus and didn’t make any mistakes and was gradually able to break the DRS, which was very powerful today and manage the victory from there.”
Sergio Pérez did pit behind the safety car for fresh medium tyres, but the Mexican’s race had been compromised earlier with a sensor issue that lost him around thirty horsepower, meaning that despite the fresher tyres, he was unable to pass Sainz for third.
Horner believes Pérez could have got ahead of both Ferrari’s had it not been for the engine issue, but fourth place represented a good job for a driver left hobbled in performance.
“Checo was really unlucky today, he had a sensor issue early on and lost about 30 horsepower, and he gave it a real go when we pitted him and gave him the tyre advantage and without that issue he may even have finished second,” he said.
Horner says the team has some developments coming to the RB18 that should help them improve in the upcoming races, although he acknowledges there is still a need for the car to lose weight as it is currently running above the minimum weight level required.
“We’ve got some interesting races coming up, the car is running well, we have some development coming in the summer and we need to lose some weight, but we’re pleased with what we’ve come away with this weekend,” concluded the Team Principal.