Christian Horner believes that Red Bull were somewhat “lucky” in the closing stages of the Miami Grand Prix, as Max Verstappen held on for victory.
Verstappen passed Ferrari pair Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc early on to control the majority of proceedings at the Miami International Autodrome, only for a late Safety Car to cancel out his advantage.
It was during the Safety Car period – triggered on Lap 41 of 57 – that Horner reckons Ferrari missed an opportunity to pit one of their cars for a set of Softs and attempt to put Verstappen under more pressure on used Hards.
In the end, Verstappen, Leclerc and Sainz all stayed out on Hards, while Red Bull pitted Sergio Perez for Mediums for an unsuccessful podium push.
Leclerc did his best to overhaul Verstappen in the final laps, but was ultimately unable to make a move stick, despite the Drag Reduction System (DRS) being available on several occasions.
Horner thinks Ferrari missed an opportunity
Reflecting on the race, Horner explained just how much it took from Red Bull’s side to secure victory, while pointing to what he feels was a Ferrari oversight.
“[We threw] everything we had at it,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.
“[Under] the Safety Car, we were quite lucky in that Ferrari didn’t pit and take on a new tyre for that, because they could probably have put on a Soft tyre.
“At least that neutralised things, but then once Charles was in the DRS [range of Verstappen], we couldn’t shake him off.
“And Max… it’s so much pressure in that position, that it’s just easy to lock a wheel and so on, and he kept it clean, he didn’t make any mistakes.
“It took him about five or six laps to break the DRS, and then he was able to manage it from there.”
Horner enjoys “tactical race” for Miami victory
Horner added that Verstappen and Red Bull entered the race with front-right tyre management firmly in their mind.
“In the early laps, Max was just sort of hanging with [Leclerc] and looking after that tyre,” he explained.
“That was always our tactic going into the race, ‘Look after the right tyre, look after the right tyre’, yet keep Charles under pressure.
“[Max] was able to close up and, with the straight-line speed we had, he was able to make really good use of that, so it was a real tactical race.”
Verstappen’s win has cut Leclerc’s championship lead to 19 points, while Red Bull now trail Ferrari by six.