Christian Horner unsure of Red Bull dominance despite F1 testing success

Red Bull and Max Verstappen were the class of the field on Day 1 of F1 2024 testing

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Red Bull chief Christian Horner has heaped praise on his design and engineering team for making a ‘bold step’ with their 2024 car, but stopped short of predicting another runaway success for the Formula 1 team this season.

Max Verstappen was a second clear of his closest challenger on Day 1 of testing in Bahrain as the Dutchman punched in 143 laps in the RB20 car, which has left the paddock impressed with its advanced aerodynamic features.

Sergio Perez then followed up Verstappen‘s run by finishing second behind Carlos Sainz on the second day at the Bahrain International Circuit, with the Mexican recovering from a brakes fire to also reach triple digits with a 125-lap run.

But unlike Mercedes driver George Russell, who claimed Red Bull were “a step ahead” of the rest of the field after Day 1 of testing, Horner was reluctant to make any predictions as to how fast they were – claiming there was not enough data to accurately compare them to their competitors.

Max Verstappen makes his final preparations in the Red Bull garage on day one of 2024 F1 pre-season testing before driving out onto the Bahrain International Circuit | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“It’s difficult to draw too many conclusions from times other than we don’t know what flow those competitors are running on, or how close they’re running,” Horner told the press in Bahrain. “So we don’t know what [lap times] we’re doing. I think it would be fair to say that we can have a decent car, a good basis, the drivers’ feedback was encouraging.

“You can see that the team have made a bold step with the car, they’ve not been conservative. And I think the whole team have done a great job. It’s not for me to question that, it’s to encourage creativity, to encourage that evolution.

“Considering the lack of windtunnel time that we have, through the regulations, the creativity that’s been demonstrated by the team has been been great and they have come up with some very innovative solutions, particularly around the cooling.”

Oscar Piastri during Day 1 of F1 testing 2024 | McLaren

A new challenger for Red Bull

Sitting alongside Horner was McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who saw his team offer the strongest challenge to Red Bull towards the end of the season.

While the American congratulated the constructors’ champions on potentially improving their car, he is optimistic McLaren have a chance of finishing on the top step of the podium after finishing second on six occasions last season.

“This year, there’s no surprises that it appears they are extremely, extremely strongly again,” Brown said. “Obviously, they’ve done a great job over the over the winter, a record racing car, but nine podiums last year, six second-place finishes… it’d be nice to be able to get one further step towards the top.

“So we certainly want to start where we finished and progress over the season and see no reason why if we can keep up with the development that we’ve had since the summer of last year, we shouldn’t be in a position to get on that top step here.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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