Damon Hill admits he was surprised by how much Red Bull were outpaced by Ferrari at the Austrian Grand Prix, leading him to question whether Max Verstappen’s team are being hampered by some technical issues.
The weekend had initially started well for the Milton Keynes-based squad, with the Dutchman securing pole position in Friday’s qualifying before going on to win Saturday’s Sprint.
However, second-placed Charles Leclerc warned that he had the pace to challenge in Sunday’s race. This prediction turned out to be true, and Leclerc claimed victory ahead of Verstappen, who struggled with tyre degradation during the event.
With the Scuderia having been unable to match Red Bull on some occasions recently, Hill was not expecting them to have such an advantage in the Grand Prix.
“[It was] a bit of a turnaround, a bit of a surprise to see Ferrari looking like they’ve caught up Red Bull, and making this a bit more of a championship for us, which is fantastic,” Hill told the F1 Nation podcast.
Why Ferrari’s advantage in Austria surprised Hill
When presenter Tom Clarkson suggested that Ferrari had had the pace all along, but had been let down by reliability, strategy and circumstance, Hill acknowledged that this might be true.
However, he was still shocked to see the Scuderia outperform Red Bull at their home venue in Austria.
“What I meant was that, on certain circuits, you’d put it [as] being a Red Bull track, or Ferrari would do better at certain other circuits,” Hill explained.
“But in their backyard, in their own track that they have dominated now for quite a long time, to be clearly not as quick as the Ferrari was a surprise, I thought.”
Have Red Bull been “suffering” more than Ferrari?
In light of their problems in Austria, Hill has questioned whether Red Bull are being more affected by car problems than they might have previously seemed to be.
“[It was] maybe an indicator that they’ve got some issues which might be handicapping them more than they want to,” the 1996 World Champion added.
“The tyre degradation thing on the Red Bull, it looked like they were suffering more than Ferrari.”
Ahead of the upcoming French Grand Prix, Red Bull lead Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship by 56 points, while Verstappen has a 38-point advantage over Leclerc in the Drivers’ standings.