Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitted drivers Max Verstappen and Segio Perez were upset to lose pole position to Mercedes after they got ‘Tsunoda’d’ in Q3 of qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix. The team entered qualifying as the favourite to secure pole after a comfortable one-two in final practice, with Sergio Perez dreaming of a home pole while Mercedes were half a second slower.
The Silver Arrows hit back in style though, with Valtteri Bottas claiming an unlikely pole while teammate Lewis Hamilton took P2 to secure an unlikely front row lock-out – their first of the season.
Verstappen finished third after finishing over three tenths off the Finn following a chaotic end to qualifying.
Looking for any advantage to aid his final run, Verstappen pursued Perez to gain a slipstream but the plan was derailed when Tsunoda ran wide, and the Mexican joined him.
The Dutchman lost time as a result – and Horner was quick to point the finger at the Japanese rookie.
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“I think we got Tsunoda’d,” Horner told Sky Sports F1 after being asked how Red Bull missed out on pole position in Mexico City.
“Both drivers were up on their last lap. Max was up two-and-a-half tenths, I think Checo was just under two tenths up.
“I don’t understand why he was just cruising around at that part of the circuit.
“It’s disappointing because it affected both of the drivers because they’re both pretty annoyed.
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“But we’re still second row of the grid and can have a great race from there.”
It’s a bitter blow to Red Bull, who were expected to dominate at the Mexican race due to the Honda engine being affected by the high altitude more than its Mercedes counterpart.
The Red Bull car also carries high downforce, but they were outshone by Mercedes in qualifying.
Horner believes his team can hit back in the race though.
“[Mercedes] were very quick, very quick,” Horner said.
“I think we could see yesterday, their engine, they’ve addressed the issues that they had previously here. So they’ve obviously managed to address that.
“I think we underperformed in Q3. But there’s still, it’s very, very tight.
“In the race tomorrow, again, it’s going to be really tight. They’ve got a good straight-line speed here, which is going to be tough.”
Formula 1 returns to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the Mexican Grand Prix on November 7, with Red Bull star Verstappen holding a slender 12-point lead over Mercedes’ Hamilton.
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