Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner has responded to what happened betwen his drivers during qualifying for the team’s home race the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.
Speaking following the session, Christian Horner commented by saying:
“I think fifth and seventh is about representative on such a power sensitive circuit. With three long straights and minimal corners we were unable to play to our strengths even with the small power upgrade. In terms of the drivers; we have a very simple policy here that has operated for the last seven years and that is to alternate who drives out of the garage first from race to race. This is the only way to keep it scrupulously fair between both drivers.This weekend it was Daniel’s turn to drive out of the garage first. In the heat of Qualifying he felt that on a track like this where a tow can sometimes help, he could be at a slight disadvantage going out first. Last weekend it was the reverse and he benefited. Now that both drivers have had time to review what happened they have a rather different view of things than they did in the heat of the moment. This is natural when you want to win and we would not want to take that away from them. With three DRS zones in the race, hopefully we can have better pace tomorrow and put on a good show for our home fans.
Max Verstappen who will start the race from fourth as a result of Sebastien Vettel’s penalty commented by saying:
“The car felt a bit better today, in Q1 and Q2 it felt quicker but we just didn’t make the step needed in Q3. All weekend we have been chasing the balance of the car so this means we are not as close as we would like. This not only effects Qualifying but also our long run pace. We have it in a better window than yesterday so hopefully we can gain a bit more for tomorrow. We were down on speed on the straight even though I was running minimal downforce. I think there was a little gain from the engine mode we now have but nothing really obvious and I need to go away and look into the data to see how much we gained. I don’t think it is fully optimised yet so hopefully there is more to come. In Q3 there was a bit of confusion between Daniel and myself. Last weekend I was ahead in the session and this weekend Daniel was ahead, that is the pre-planned strategy race by race so I kept to that. They asked me to overtake him but as I said, the plan was to remain behind so I stuck to it. As we managed to get three runs in it meant it was quite a rushed Q3 but at the end of the day I followed the plan. It looks like the step Mercedes made in Paul Ricard has put them a little bit further ahead, we will have better tracks for us to come which I’m sure will mean we are closer to them and will be able to compete.”
A very frustrated Daniel Ricciardo who starts the race from seventh place commented by saying:
That wasn’t my best Qualifying, that’s for sure. In the heat of the moment I felt like I could have been treated more fairly, but I’ve had a few discussions since with Christian and my engineer and I can see the full picture now. I spoke a little bit with my engineer about it before Qualifying but I guess as a team it wasn’t discussed. From the team’s point of view once we got into Qualifying and Q3 and they saw us playing cat and mouse they probably thought, what is going on and this is not what we talked about. In my mind in the car, it was obvious that I wanted a run where I was getting a tow instead of giving a tow. Maybe if we had talked it over beforehand we could have done it differently. For that last run I thought I would get a chance to get a tow, but I guess by that point I didn’t want to push the air again and Max didn’t want to give me a tow. From his point of view we didn’t talk about it beforehand, so he thought, I’m staying where I am. The competitor in both of us is not wanting to give an inch. I’m not mad at Max for that but in the heat of the moment I was frustrated. Your teammate is the first guy you want to beat so everyone is out there for themselves and everyone knows that. We have a policy where we alternate who leaves the garage first race by race. Luck of the draw this week meant I was out of the garage first, but I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do it for every run. We haven’t been that quick here anyway and we are losing more on the straights than we thought, so when I could see I was even losing to myself on the straights, I was just thinking how am I going to be up there in Qualifying. In Q3 the balance was actually pretty good and in the high speed we are at the limit of the grip, but we just don’t have a fast package on this track. There are no points for Qualifying so let’s see what we can do tomorrow in the race.”