Christian Horner hails the sim work at Milton Keynes for F1 Imola GP revival, as he adds on Sergio Perez’s misery.

It wasn’t the start that Red Bull had hoped for on Friday in F1 Imola GP. But they managed to turn it around by a bit in qualifying after Max Verstappen took pole by just over the McLaren pair – which included some aide from Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg.

But the work at Imola was not the only thing that helped. A lot of it came from Milton Keynes where Sebastien Buemi was doing simulator duty. Even Jack Dennis chipped in his bit throughout the night to aide Red Bull get their set-up right for the grand prix.

“Sebastien Buemi,” said Horner when asked of the work done behind the scenes. “No, we did a lot of set-up work on Friday night and into Saturday and managed to move the balance and get the car into a much better window and, as I say, for 60% of the race we were comfortably anywhere between six and eight seconds clear of the rest.

“It was just the second half of that hard tyre stint that we started to give away performance. The Friday work was a big dive. That is where you must never underestimate the support that comes from the broader team in the factor, the simulator drivers and credit where credit is due, the essence of the team is being able to respond when things aren’t going well and we managed to turn it around.

“If you expected this result on Friday, all your analysis would’ve said no way. But we managed to turn it around and win the race,” summed up Horner, who conceded that they should have tried the hard compound on Friday to understand the tyre better since it proved costly during the race as they couldn’t get it in the right window.

Also, they did not factor Lando Norris as much, since the focus was on Charles Leclerc. “I think for the first 40 laps we were in a really good window and he would’ve managed the gap,” said Horner. “After he came out the gap dropped to six seconds but he was able to hold it there but at that point it looked more like our eyes were on Leclerc and was he going to make the step and was he going to pose the challenge.

“But Lando, whatever window they managed to get their tyre into, suddenly their car came alive and it just showed how sensitive these tyres are to the different conditions,” summed up Horner, who overall lost some points since Perez was only eighth after his hard tyre strategy didn’t work either which included a gravel off too.

It was the second mistake in Imola, but Horner doesn’t think this will be a repeat of last year. “Our simulations were saying before the race that P7 was potentially optimal and assuming nothing happened, no safety cars or anything like that,” he said. “He had one trip through the gravel that cost him about six seconds but I think that was about the maximum that he could get from that grid position.

“I think it is just minor thing we’ll see in Monaco next weekend, and then we leave Europe again. I think it is just a blip. He has always gone well at Monaco so we’ll see.” Perez, meanwhile, noted of the hard tyres and also traffic which didn’t help him. Of the fights, he didn’t wished to lose time but the tyres just didn’t worked out.

“I think we sort of knew that was the best we could get,” said Perez. “We obviously knew that the hard was going to be very difficult initially, but we were hoping for a safety car at the right point that potentially could put us back in the fight. It was very difficult first stint. I think it was compromised a lot with the traffic initially, traffic at the end, and people coming through. I also had a lock up going into Turn 16.

“So I went straight and lost quite a bit of damage. I also picked up some damage. So, yes, just a very, very tough race. I wanted to lose as little time as possible [when being overtaken]. Unfortunately, at the same time, you are at the end of your stint, temperatures are dropping, and the grip is just very miserable at that point.”

Here’s Max Verstappen, Lando Norris on late dramas

Here’s how F1 Imola GP panned out

Here’s Max Verstappen, McLaren pair on pitlane guy

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