Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said that the small margins between the top drivers at the United States GP Sprint Shootout are a sign at that the gap to the rest of the grid is becoming tighter.
Max Verstappen took pole position for the Sprint Race in Austin after losing out for having his final lap time deleted in qualifying for the grand prix on Friday, but the gap between the top four drivers was just one tenth of a second.
Charles Leclerc was once again remarkably close to Verstappen, with the Ferrari just 0.055 seconds back in second, while Lewis Hamilton was 0.069 seconds off the top spot and Lando Norris just over one tenth back from first.
While Red Bull have dominated the 2023 season, winning all but one race, Horner told Sky Sports F1 after the session he believed that the tight fight at the top was a sign of things to come and said why he thinks it will make life more difficult for the Milton Keynes outfit.
“It definitely makes it a lot tighter. And it definitely makes those margins and you have torely on your data a lot more,” Horner said.
“So the amount of simulations you’re running in a race, there’s a lot more intensity on that.”
“But it’s going to happen. I mean, when you have got stable regulations, the cars and the teams will converge.
“And so I think this is a precursor to what we’ll see next year where it’s a much tighter field.”
The smaller margin between the top teams will be encouraging to the chasing pack, particularly with Ferrari and Mercedes again expected to be competitive around the Circuit of the Americas.
And Horner said he believed it was all still to play for, particularly given the lack of data the teams have from just one practice session during the Sprint weekend format.
“We’ve seen it converging. And quali has always always been tight. So it’s always that balance between how you trade between one lap and a stint,” Horner said.
“And I think what we’ll see today is how does that play out, have we weighted more to the to the race or the stint length, or over a single lap.
“So it’s going to be fascinating to see, degradation around here can be a factor.”