Red Bull boss Christian Horner says he’s not surprised to see his drivers Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo qualify only in eighth and ninth places on the grid at Monza.
The long straights of the Monza puts the Renault powered teams at a major disadvantage vis-a-vis their rivals, with the French manufacturer’s power unit down on power to Mercedes as well as possibly Ferrari. Horner, therefore, was not surprised to see see his drivers qualify this badly. However, he expects them to fare better in the race, on account of better long run pace.
“It’s no great surprise for us to be struggling a little in qualifying today,’’ Horner said. “To make it through to Q3 was a result in itself and so to finish eighth and ninth in qualifying, when there’s one Ferrari and other than all Mercedes powered cars ahead, is not a huge surprise.
“We’re confident we’ve got better race pace for tomorrow and strategy will be crucial; hopefully we’ll have a good start and strong first few corners.”
In direct contrast, Vettel and Ricciardo were rather disappointed with their performances, saying they could have qualified higher on the grid
“I think realistically anything from P5 to P10 was maybe possible, but it was very close,’’ Vettel said. “It’s a shame when you miss a couple of positions by just a few tenths or so, but we knew it would be like that going into today. When the gaps are close you always think you could have gone quicker, but that was probably it in terms of what we could do today.”
”Even though we expected a tricky qualifying, I’m still disappointed,’’ Ricciardo said after qualifying. “Ninth is not something to get really excited about. Seb’s in front, but he’s only in 8th as well and as a team we would have loved to have been a bit closer to the top five.”
Vettel expects his Red Bull to be quicker than McLaren in race trim, whose drivers start the race from fifth and sixth places on the grid.
“We should be quicker than McLaren tomorrow, I’d say we’ll be about the same as Ferrari, while Williams and Mercedes will likely be a bit too quick for us, but we’ll look after ourselves and see what happens in the race,’’ the quadruple world champion said.