Red Bull not surprised by gulf to pole time in Sochi

Christian Horner insists that Red Bull was not surprised by the huge gulf to pole position in qualifying in Russia, pointing out that Sochi has never favoured the Milton Keynes team.

Red Bull not surprised by gulf to pole time in Sochi
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB13
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing Team Principal

Although he qualified fifth-fastest, Daniel Ricciardo was a full 1.711 seconds off Sebastian Vettel’s pole time, despite the Australian having been as close as 0.7s to poleman Valtteri Bottas in Bahrain.

Max Verstappen was a further two tenths back in seventh place, with Felipe Massa's Williams splitting the two Red Bull drivers.

“If you look back to last year I think we were two seconds off,” Horner told Motorsport.com. “So I think this track plays to our weaknesses. We’ve still got plenty of work to do.

"P5, of all the times we’ve come to this circuit, is actually our best grid position. Again it demonstrates that it’s far from our strongest circuit.”

Verstappen was only 0.3s clear of the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg in eighth, the same margin between the two teams as in Bahrain.

Horner played down suggestions that the works Renault team could be getting a superior specification of power unit, helping it to close the gap, with Helmut Marko hinting to German media that the idea could not be discounted.

“We certainly hope not," Horner said. "I’d be very surprised if that was the case. We’ve seen quite often the Renault is good in qualifying and fades in the race. We’re trying to balance both elements, qualifying and the race.

"Make no mistake, we’ve got work to do on the chassis side, but here is a very engine-dominated track.”

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