Christian Horner offers hope to Red Bull rivals in 2024

The Red Bull team principal anticipates a challenging season for the Milton Keynes outfit

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Despite a dominant display from Red Bull at the 2024 Formula 1 season opener in Bahrain, team principal Christian Horner expects the competition to be closer this season than it was in 2023. 

Max Verstappen cruised to victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix, taking the chequered flag with a 22 second gap to teammate Sergio Perez, who finished second. With the team taking a 1-2, Red Bull look on course to enjoy another dominant season, continuing on from the remarkable performance in 2023 which saw the team win all but one race.

Horner, however, has been reluctant to draw too many conclusions from Red Bull’s performance in Bahrain and placed an emphasis on the unique track conditions of the Bahrain International Circuit, which have typically played to Red Bull’s advantage.

“I’ve been in this business too long to draw too many conclusions from a single race,” Horner told the press. “It’s a fantastic start, we’ll enjoy this moment, maximum point score, but it’s a long season with many different venues, different challenges, different conditions.”

Sergio Perez leads the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz plus Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso and the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at the 2024 Bahrain GP | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Sergio Perez leads the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz plus Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at the 2024 Bahrain GP | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Although Red Bull enjoyed a hefty winning margin in the first Grand Prix of 2024, pre-season testing and Friday’s competitive qualifying session suggested that the rest of the grid have begun to close the gap to Red Bull.

Appearing mindful of this fact, Horner suggested that despite this early season success, Red Bull might not enjoy such easy victories further down the line.

“What we’ve seen in testing is that things are getting closer,” said Horner.

“Now, we got it right this weekend. We took the right tyres into the race, we executed a perfect race with both cars and we got a great finish. But I think that [the field] will converge.”

Are Red Bull playing down advantage?

Whilst Horner took a humble approach to Red Bull‘s dominant display, it remains the fact that Verstappen took victory by a margin of 22 seconds — a ten second increase from his winning margin at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix.

When questioned about this fact, Horner was quick to play down its significance, particularly as it pertains to the performance of Sergio Perez, who finished second to Verstappen in 2023 as well.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull during the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“Everything’s relative, isn’t it?” said Horner. “Checo [Perez] came from P5, Max was obviously managing the race as many drivers are managing different tyres at different times.

“It’s not a question of how much you win by, it’s a question about winning, and we won today.”

Horner paid credit to Red Bull‘s differing approach to tyre strategy, putting forwards the team’s use of the soft tyres as an explanation for Verstappen‘s all-out dominance.

“I think the back end of the race was exaggerated by the the offset of tyre that we carried in,” Horner stated said. “I was surprised that others didn’t carry softs into the race when it was clearly, in these conditions, the better tyre to have.”

Jasmine Hughes
Jasmine Hughes
Experienced in digital content creation, Jasmine Hughes has written for a number of online publications, joining Total Motorsport in 2024. She previously served as FormulaNerds' Formula E Editor, leading coverage of the 2023 Formula E season. She has been watching Formula 1 since the age of 4, after falling in love with Fernando Alonso's blue-yellow Renault R25.
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