Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner has shot-down the chance of both reverse-grid F1 qualifying races and a Sebastian Vettel deal with the team likely to favor Alexander Albon.
Two of the biggest rumors to circulate over the last few weeks have been the possibilities of reversed-grid sprint races, and a potential, but admittedly unlikely move to Red Bull for Vettel, and now, both of these have one common thread: Horner finds them highly unlikely.
In the case of the latter, Horner flat-out denied there being any chance of the move – something Dr. Helmut Marko has talked about too – saying instead that his F1 outfit is likely to retain Albon alongside Max Verstappen if the Thai continues with his fine run.
Red Bull brought in Albon on board in 2019 to replace Pierre Gasly and after a half-season experiment, they came to the conclusion that he was their best option for the 2020 F1 season as the Thai racer could eke out more than the Frenchman.
COVID-19 has meant he has yet to turn a wheel in anger in 2020, but in testing he looked set to build on past results and become an even stronger front-of-the-field driver. “Sebastian is a great driver and what we achieved together was huge, those four consecutive championships,” said Horner to Sky Sports.
“He’s obviously made his decision to leave Ferrari, that’s his choice and I’m sure he’s thought long and hard about it. But we’re very happy with the driver lineup we have in place. Alex was getting stronger throughout last year, Max is on a long-term contract, and our ideal is to continue with those two drivers not just for the season, but beyond that into 2021. But obviously that will depend on how Alex performs.
“All the indications and progress that we saw last year is that we’ve got a very strong pairing in Max and Alex.” Meanwhile, in the case of reverse grid raced, Horner downplayed the odds in saying that Mercedes are opposed to the proposal.
Something F1 chief Chase Carey also stated that won’t happen as ‘some’ teams opposed it – without naming. He felt the sport cannot push for gimmicks if it doesn’t help. Horner, however, admitted that 2020 would be the perfect time to run such sprint races.
“I think we’ve got a unique situation this year, and having two races at the same venue – it would seem the perfect time to try something different at that second event,” said Horner. “Otherwise, with stable weather conditions, we’re likely to have the same output in race two as we have in race one.
“The proposal seemed to get overwhelming support. The only person that wasn’t particularly supportive of it was Toto because he thought it would interfere with Lewis’ seventh world championship campaign, and it would be too much of a variable.
Mercedes’ pushback is somewhat to be expected, with their driver having openly criticised the idea, and them being the arguably the fastest team on the grid in terms of car performance and particularly one-lap pace with their qualifying maestro Lewis Hamilton at the helm.
Here’s Christian Horner on Sebastian Vettel/Mark Webber, Max Verstappen
Here’s Christian Horner on customer cars and more
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Here’s Red Bull trio on Talking Bull podcast
The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani