Horner rues Mexican weekend that promised 'a lot more' for Verstappen
At a circuit where Max Verstappen has claimed victory in the past two years, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner couldn’t hide his frustration at his Dutch driver’s nightmare Mexican Grand Prix weekend, with Verstappen eventually finishing the race in P6, having survived contact with the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Verstappen’s joy at taking his second career pole position on Saturday had been short-lived, with the Dutchman subsequently handed a three-place grid drop for failing to slow down under yellow flags brought out when Bottas crashed his Mercedes.
Starting from fourth, Verstappen then made light contact with eventual race-winner Hamilton in Turns 1 and 2, before a bold move on Bottas into the Foro Sol stadium on Lap 4 resulted in Verstappen’s rear-right tyre getting punctured by the Finn.
Verstappen had to drive a whole lap of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with his tyre destroying itself – and although he declared himself happy with his strong fightback to finish P6, he was clearly not pleased to have missed out on a chance to take his third straight win in Mexico.
“Of course it’s now where I wanted to finish, but if you look at the circumstances, I think it’s still a very good race – just a shame,” he said.
“With Valtteri I went up on the inside and then when I was alongside him, I realised he wanted to make his corner, so I guess he didn’t see me, clipped my rear tyre. That of course ruined my race.
“But after that, we had a good fightback. P6 was definitely the maximum we could do with that, but the pace still on the tyre which had to last 65 laps was very good.”
It's frustrating, because we could have had a lot more out of today
With the high-altitude Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez one of Red Bull’s favoured tracks on the calendar, Team Principal Horner couldn’t help but rue a difficult day, with Verstappen’s team mate Alex Albon only managing P5, having run as high as third early on.
“It’s a real shame,” said Horner of Verstappen’s race, “losing out in the first couple of turns and then getting a puncture with Valtteri, you’re out of the race at that point. And to do almost the entire race on one set of tyres, Max did a very strong drive to come back to P6.
“[Alex] lost a lot of time with a McLaren on his out-lap, otherwise he would have had an undercut on Lewis at that time, but his pace was pretty decent in the race.
“It’s frustrating, because we could have had a lot more out of today.”
The Mexico result sees Verstappen fall from fourth to fifth, behind Sebastian Vettel, in the drivers’ standings, with three races left to run this season.