Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said that he still expects Max Verstappen to be able to compete at the front of the grid in the Saudi Arabian GP, despite the reigning champion’s early retirement from qualifying.
Verstappen was forced to nurse his car back to the pits in Q2 after looking a clear favourite to take pole position, with a suspected transmission issue taking him out of proceedings and meaning he will start the race in Jeddah from 15th.
Horner said while it was disappointing for the team to have to retire the car given the Dutchman’s pace over the weekend so far, he would rather it happened during qualifying rather than the race itself.
“It looks like a driveshaft failure. So we’ve got to understand what caused that failure. And obviously make sure that we address it,” Horner told Viaplay after qualifying.
“It’s obviously massively disappointing to have that happen today. But in many respects I’d rather happened today oversee then tomorrow.
“[Verstappen’s] pace was insane. I mean, the one lap that he did would have put him forth on the grid.”
All to play for
Despite the issue pushing Verstappen down the grid, Horner remained confident the Dutchman could make his way back up to the top of the pack in Jeddah.
“There’s still opportunities tomorrow,” Horner said. “I think it’s going to be about strategy safety cars, staying out of trouble on the first lap here.
“So there’s still everything to play for.”