Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is expecting another tight battle with Ferrari at the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix, especially with the Scuderia having worked on their long run performance in Q3.
It’s advantage Ferrari heading into Sunday’s race, with Charles Leclerc making up for an early mistake in Q3 of qualifying to beat Max Verstappen to pole position.
Perhaps more importantly for Leclerc and Ferrari, the team look to have improved their race pace following some setup tweaks in FP3 after issues during Friday’s sessions.
Those improvements haven’t been lost on Horner, as he expects another close battle come Sunday.
“I think you saw this morning they had a long run with both of their cars because they were obviously concerned overnight” Horner said to Sky Sports F1.
“They’ve obviously made setup changes and it didn’t look too bad. I think we’re very, very evenly matched. I think it’s going to be a very close race tomorrow.”
Unusually high track temperatures have made things challenging for all drivers, and Horner expects tyre management will ultimately decide who comes out on top.
“Charles has carried a new set of soft tyres into the race tomorrow, so that’s strategically quite interesting,” Horner added.
“But in these temperatures, it’s all going to be about tyre degradation and tyre management. It’s going to be a fascinating race.”
Verstappen’s issues in Q3
Verstappen led the way following the first runs in Q3 after Leclerc spun in the final sector.
While Leclerc managed to battle back and take top spot, Verstappen reported a power loss, forcing him to settle for second.
Horner explained after qualifying that Verstappen‘s problems were caused by a DRS issue rather than a power unit problem.
“It wasn’t actually power in the end, it was the DRS that didn’t open,” Horner said.
“Obviously we need to get the car back to understand what’s caused that, because it opened on the back straight just as a check as he came back into the pits.”