Christian Horner says that Red Bull is keeping Mercedes honest by always being in the position to take advantage of any problems for the silver cars.
Red Bull was not expected to lead the chase in Spa, but a low downforce set-up helped Daniel Ricciardo to score an unexpected victory.
“We benefited from a get together from the Mercedes today,” said Horner. “But it’s good to be keeping them honest. This was a track that we didn’t expect to be competitive at, but we’ve managed to win there. It’s our third GP victory of the year, we’ve won in Montreal and Spa, which are the two most unlikely tracks that we would have picked pre-season. All we can do is focus on ourselves and go race by race. It’s remarkable that Daniel’s won only one less race that Nico so far this season.”
Horner admitted that he even after qualifying he didn’t have high expectations for Spa.
“I looked at the odds before the race. Sebastian was 20-1, and Daniel was 30-1. So I should think there are one or two happy customers out there if they were brave enough to put a bet on. I wouldn’t have been brave enough to put a bet on us, even with those odds, at this Grand Prix.
“Quite an incredible performance by Daniel. I think the strategy with the set-up that we elected to take, with the low downforce, enabled us to be quick in sectors one and three, and extract the most that we could out of the car. So sector two was always our weak point. But after the get together between the two Mercedes it was a question of getting Daniel’s head down and getting in with it.
“Of course we had the choice at the end, we thought that Nico would go for a new set of tyres at the end there. We could have covered him that we felt that keeping [Daniel] only 3s ahead on the same strategy was going to pout him in more danger than leaving him out.
“So we crunched the numbers very quickly and it looked like if Nico was 2.5-3s a lap quicker, it would be within a second at the end of the race. We gave Daniel a target on the lap time, and he hit all his markets, all his braking points. He never made a mistake, and got a brilliant victory. We gave him a target of a 1m53.4s, I think it was, that he needed to hit. That was based on Nico being on the 51s, and thankfully it just about worked out.”
Looking ahead to Monza, he joked: “We’re going to take the rear wing off, because I don’t think we can run much less downforce! If we’re competitive here hopefully we can be at least half competitive in Monza, but again it really lends itself to being a Mercedes type of circuit.”