Christian Horner was delighted with the ‘incredible’ Sunday for the Oracle Red Bull Racing team at the Austrian Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen dominating to take a seventh victory in nine races and his fifth in a row.
For the first time since the Miami Grand Prix in May, Verstappen found himself behind other drivers due to not pitting behind the virtual safety car, but it was not long before he found himself back where he belonged, and he was even able to afford a last gasp pit stop for fresh soft tyres to go for fastest lap such was the gap behind to Charles Leclerc.
Horner, the Team Principal at Red Bull, said it was fantastic to see Verstappen dominate as he did, the Dutchman topping free practice on Friday and both Qualifying sessions and winning both the Sprint race on Saturday and the main race on Sunday in commanding fashion.
“It has been an incredible day for the Team today and a fantastic weekend as a whole,” said Horner. “Max is obviously on exceptional form, taking qualifying, the Sprint race and now the Grand Prix is just sensational.
“Obviously we took a different strategy to that of our competitors, meaning he had to make the overtakes on track which led to some fantastic watching and a stunning weekend for him.
“We decided to go for the fastest lap on the last lap despite the risk involved in an additional pitstop , but Dietrich’s mantra was always ‘no risk, no fun’, and the mechanics have been in such incredible form that it felt relatively low risk.”
Horner was also full of praise for the way Sergio Pérez rebounded from a poor Qualifying display to climb from fifteenth on the grid and claim the final spot on the podium, despite being unwell.
The Mexican showed a good turn of speed throughout the race at the Red Bull Ring, particularly when in free air, and he was able to make some good and decisive overtakes on his way to third place.
“Checo too had such great pace today, particularly when he got clean air,” Horner said. “When you start down at fifteenth, your ability to get close to victory is obviously compromised, so his recovery from fifteenth to a podium was outstanding and his battle with Carlos was box-office.”
Red Bull have now won the opening nine races of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season and are running away with both championships at this stage of the season, and Horner has praised everyone within the team for their efforts in developing a car that is by far the strongest on the grid.
“This is our best run of in-season results since 2013, the Team is operating at a level not seen in our nineteen-year history and we’re grateful for every victory we achieve,” Horner acknowledged.
“Results like today are the work of every single department, it’s not just about the race team, it’s the activity that goes on behind the scenes back at the factory, from operations, manufacturing, research and development, aerodynamics, to our support functions in Finance, Marketing, Legal and HR, all of these need to come together and work as a team, and this is where we are so strong.”
The past weekend was also the first time they had returned to the Red Bull Ring after the passing of founder Dietrich Mateschitz, who sadly passed away last year. And Horner was delighted the team were able to honour him with such a great display.
“This is the first time we’ve been back at the track since Dietrich’s passing,” Horner added. “It felt very poignant to put in such a great team performance today.
“Whilst not here in person, you feel his presence everywhere, his passion and spirit are the reason we’re all here today and we owe him so much. This one’s for Dietrich.”