Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner is confident Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen would’ve challenged Ferrari in Q3 if they opted to compete.
Both Red Bull’s bowed out in Q2 because power unit penalties have left both cars to start from the back of Sunday’s grid.
“Had we chosen to run to the end of the session, we were on track to challenge Ferrari,” Horner said.
He thought it was “pleasing” to see Red Bull had more pace than expected during qualifying.
In Q1, Red Bull was able to finish 3rd and 4th, ahead of both Ferrari’s.
“I think it has all gone better than expected so far,” Verstappen said.
Red Bull set both cars up for the race, Horner explained, as the team knew about the penalties before the weekend.
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“We are closer than expected,” Verstappen felt, “what we lose on the straights, we can definitely make up in the corners.”
Sebastian Vettel, who qualified 3rd, described qualifying as “fine” and added that Ferrari “just
Vettel qualified more than half-a-second behind Valtteri Bottas’ pole position lap.
“The feeling with the car was pretty good, but obviously it was not enough,” fourth-placed Kimi Raikkonen added.
“Overall, It looks like we are a bit behind here,” Raikkonen said.
Both Red Bull’s were ahead of Ferrari during Friday’s second free practice session, which had conditions akin to the race.
“Obviously it’s not ideal, but it is what it is,” Raikkonen commented.
As Ferrari line the second row for Sunday’s race, Red Bull have occupied the back row, with Ricciardo 19th and Verstappen 20th.
“I think the most realistic birthday present will be fifth,” Verstappen said.
The Dutchman turns 21 on the day of the Grand Prix.
“I know both Daniel and Max will fight hard to gain maximum points for the Team tomorrow,” Horner said.