Confusion in Red Bull by the “strange” degradation of Austria
Horner says Red Bull will have to investigate what factors led to the change in form, after going from being a Ferrari equal in the sprint to much worse in the grand prix itself.
“When you look at the sprint race, we pushed a little more at the beginning, we paid a little [the price] at the end, but according to our analysis throughout the stint, we were identical to Ferrari,” he explained.
“The only thing that has changed overnight is the rain, the temperature slightly and, of course, the fuel loads.”
“So we just have to understand why, in that first stint, our degradation was significantly worse than that of Charles [Leclerc] and Carlos [Sainz].”
Ferrari suspects that the main difference between the sprint and the grand prix was that Leclerc was able to put Verstappen under more pressure on Sunday, meaning the Dutchman couldn’t manage his tyres the way he would have liked.
Italian team principal Mattia Binotto said: “I don’t think there’s much difference in pace between the two cars, if there is one at all.”
“As for the tyre degradation, my interpretation is that in the sprint we had a bit of an advantage in the degradation of the compounds, which we transformed even more [in the grand prix] because we started to put pressure on Max [Verstappen] from the beginning.”
“We forced him to have more pace and to degrade the tyres more. So I think what we saw in the sprint was more evident [in the race] because Max was put more pressure on,” concluded the Maranello boss.
Max Verstappen took pole in qualifying on Friday, and the next day took a relatively simple victory in the sprint race.
When the moment of truth arrived, everything seemed to indicate that the reigning world champion was going to repeat position in the main test at the Red Bull Ring.