Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has detailed how just “one corner differentiated” them from title rivals Mercedes at the Qatar Grand Prix last weekend.
The Losail International Circuit delivered a thrilling race on its F1 debut with the high-speed layout providing plenty of thrills.
The vast majority of the 16 corners in Qatar allowed the drivers to turn at medium-high speeds, while turn six was a key low-speed turn.
Horner concedes that Mercedes handled the turn better, taken in third gear, with the curve demanding different aerodynamic characteristics that Red Bull struggled more with.
“One corner differentiated us all weekend and it was turn six,” conceded Horner.
“We lost two-tenths per lap every lap from Friday to Sunday at that corner, and that’s one of the things we need to understand, where do we need to improve.”
Horner also explained Red Bull’s two-stop plan for Verstappen in Qatar: “We went into the race with the intention of doing a one-stop, and then quickly saw Lewis was pushing on, so we started to push harder.
“In the first stint, Lewis had a pace advantage to us but in the second two stints, we were able to match him.
“The fact Max was able to claim the fastest lap, even prior to putting on the set of the softs at the end, was very encouraging.”
While Verstappen has laughed off Hamilton’s recent fine after the Brazilian Grand Prix.
And after being burnt for the lofty sum of £42,000 (€50,000), compared to the Briton’s £3,700 (€5,000) fine, Verstappen has hinted at driving without a safety belt in future to incur a lighter penalty.
He told DAZN: “I’m not allowed to touch a rear wing anymore, that’s for sure.
“If you do, you have to pay a big fine, but apparently it’s cheaper to drive without the belts. So I’ll think about it.”