Christian Horner says that Red Bull could not have bettered the fifth and sixth places secured by Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel at Monza, a circuit that the team expected to be the most challenging of the year.
The two drivers followed different strategies, with Vettel stopping very early, and Ricciardo very late. The converged in the closing laps when Ricciardo was able to pass his team mate after a short but hard battle between the pair.
“Fifth and sixth was the absolute optimum,” said Horner. “Obviously all the cars ahead us are Mercedes-powered, and the cars behind us were mainly Mercedes-powered, so I think to get fifth and sixth positions was the absolute optimum today. When you consider the last two races, Spa and here, which are predominantly power dominated, I think we’ve extracted a little more than we could have hoped for.”
Explaining the strategy choices he said: “We [Vettel] were racing against the McLarens, we were in that train, versus Magnussen, and Jenson behind and Fernando. It was a question of do we go for the undercut, do we go for track position, and then go for tyre conservation?
“So we went aggressive with Seb, we went for the undercut, which he made work. He delivered the lap time, and got the track position. Obviously versus the guys that he was racing, that worked very well, in that he held his position to the McLarens and the Force India. Obviously Fernando dropped out of that.
“The decision with Daniel was dictated by the fact that he wasn’t in that group at the start, so we had the option to go longer. He wasn’t going to undercut anyone, so we thought we’d go as long as we can, before the tyres hit the cliff, and then pit and give him fresh tyres for the end of the race.
“What Daniel did was truly impressive, some of his overtaking manoeuvres to get him back into contention. Sebastian’s tyres unfortunately were six laps short of keeping that position. At the time you make a decision you’ve got to go with what’s in front of you.”