Christian Horner has accepted that Lewis Hamilton had the right to slow down his out-lap and that the team is set on showing their worth on Sunday.
Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen were sent out right behind Hamilton before their final flying lap in Q3. Hamilton drove an extremely slow out-lap in an attempt to make things difficult for Red Bull. A slow-out lap would prevent both Red Bull cars from getting the required tire temperatures for their flying lap.
Horner reacted after the session: “I think we’d probably focus more on the preparation of our tire because you can see his lap time was nowhere near his qualifying time. But he was obviously more interested in what was going on behind. But that’s part of the game.”
While Hamilton’s out lap did not affect Verstappen too much, the second Red Bull driver, Perez, suffered heavily from it. The Mexican crossed the line as the chequered flag was brought out, implying that he did not get a chance to improve on his time in Q3.
While moves like this are certainly frowned upon in the paddock, Horner believes that it comes down to “gamesmanship”. He also shared that given Hamilton’s track position he had the right to go about his out lap in any way that he deemed fit.
“It’s a bit of gamesmanship. I mean, Lewis has got a hell of a lap in the bank. And then obviously he’s just backing things up, up, up and he doesn’t want to give, obviously, our cars a clean run.
“But it’s his right to do that, he’s got a track position. So we haven’t got a major issue. It’s all about tomorrow.”