Formula One

Horner: Imola 1-2 ‘psychologically a big thing’ for Red Bull


Christian Horner believes that Red Bull’s 1-2 finish in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola back in April was a psychological boost for his team and the early turning point in its battle against archrival Ferrari.

The Italian outfit had hit the ground running in Bahrain where poleman Charles Leclerc took a commanding win while Red Bull chargers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez both retired in the closing laps of the race.

Although Verstappen narrowly beat Leclerc in Saudi Arabia, the Monegasque was once again out of reach in Australia where Verstappen suffered another DNF due to a fuel leak.

Ferrari thus went into its home race at Imola bolstered by its strong opening salvo, but a collision at the start for Carlos Sainz and a crucial mistake by Leclerc while chasing Perez handed 58 points to Red Bull, with Verstappen winning both the Sprint event and the race at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

Unbeknownst to the Scuderia at the time, Red Bull’s triumph marked the start of a six-race winning streak for the Milton Keynes-based outfit.

Yet Horner felt that Ferrari “had a faster car than us in the early part of the season”, but Red Bull’s forward march coupled with mistakes in the Italian camp set the bulls on their way.

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“I think that we were able to stay in touch [with Ferrari], and that was very important,” said Horner

“Our championship was 21 races because we missed the first one by having a double DNF. We had to stick with them.

“For me, one of the crucial weekends was Imola with the sprint race and then the victory, and to win both those races, to achieve the 1-2 finish and beat Ferrari on their home ground was I think psychologically a big thing for us as a team, potentially for them as well.

“We developed the car, improved the car and lost a little bit of weight – the car did! And then the speed came. These guys have been just fantastic this year.”

Verstappen echoed Horner’s comments. The Dutchman had left Melbourne thoroughly depressed by his his deficit in the standings relative to Leclerc.

But Red Bull’s Imola weekend changes the future 2022 world champion’s mindset.

“The way we bounced back after a tough weekend in Australia, to then go to Imola, the weekend we had was just incredible,” said Verstappen.

“I knew that there was a lot of potential, but I knew at that point we had a lot of ground to catch up on. The car since then has been just continuously developed in the right way, and slowly the car is getting skinnier as well. That was good.

“We’ve had a lot of incredible weekends as a team since then. Difficult to say which exact moment, but after Imola I was confident we had a good opportunity [of the title].”

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Horner: Imola 1-2 ‘psychologically a big thing’ for Red Bull

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