Red Bull is on a strong run of form recently, the 4-time world champions on a mission to get Max Verstappen his first championship, and, more importantly, to get the team its fifth constructors’ title. The Mexico City GP awarded the team with a double podium and a win for Max Verstappen, leaving the Milton Keynes outfit a singular point behind rivals Mercedes in the championship.
Speaking after the race in Mexico, Christian Horner hailed the recent upturn in performance of home favourite Sergio Perez, and emphasized the importance of team work in such a tight championship, believing the team spirit in his team is “one of the best” of its time in Formula One:
"[Sergio] has found his form in the last 3 or 4 races, and that’s just presenting us with so many more [strategic] options. He’s totally in tune with that, he’s asking all the questions from the car as well. I have to say, it’s probably one of the best, if not the best, team spirit that we’ve ever had in this team," Horner said.
After an underwhelming performance in qualifying at Mexico, Red Bull turned up on Sunday and dominated proceedings with Max Verstappen, and pressurized the second place of Lewis Hamilton with a late charge from Sergio Perez. Asked about how the race unfolded from his perspective, Horner stated the start was "the most important part", and praised Verstappen for his excellent, around the outside move into turns 1 and 2 which saw the Dutchman take the lead of the race:
"Today’s been a massive day. A fantastic drive by Max – the most important part was the start; he nailed the start. He found himself a bit of space, which I was surprised that they [Mercedes] gave him the room. I have to say, Valtteri was very fair.
"I thought Max had missed his braking [point], because he was so late on the brakes at turn 1, but he made it stick and from there he really controlled the race, it was a really straight-forward race for him."
Asked where the sudden pace came from on Sunday, Horner explained that even Red Bull themselves were surprised at the amazing pace they showed on race day at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, and why their qualifying disappointment actually proved helpful on Sunday:
"I don’t think we were expecting that to be honest, after yesterday. It was a bit of a surprise, it felt like we underperformed [on Saturday]. It was almost a blessing, because had we been on the front row, ironically, we would’ve been a sitting duck going into turn 1. Ironically, it worked reasonably well for us.
"I think we had great pace today. You could see with Checo, he was getting so close [to Lewis] in the last few laps. He drove a great race today. They were coming up to a bit of traffic, Lewis boxed to make sure he retained the track position, but then we gave Checo about 10-lap better tyres, and he really made that work at the end of the race today. Great race for him."
With only four more races to go in the 2021 F1 season, Horner insists Red Bull isn’t yet thinking of the ultimate glory it could achieve by the end of the season, believing there is "still a long way to go", and highlights the importance of the recent results for the morale of the group:
"There’s still a long way to go, there’s still a lot of points available. We just gotta keep doing what we’re doing – keep attacking, keep pushing, and maximise every weekend.
"You can see what it means to the whole team. We worked so hard to get into this position, and to be one point behind in the constructors’ [with] four to go, [and] to be 19 ahead in the drivers’ now."
The next chapter of this absorbing championship takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil – a race which will see the return of the "Sprint" format for a final time in the 2021 season.