Horner: Red Bull can beat Mercedes anywhere if it wins at Paul Ricard

Christian Horner believes that Red Bull will be able to beat Mercedes anywhere if it can win Sunday’s Formula 1 French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard.

Horner: Red Bull can beat Mercedes anywhere if it wins at Paul Ricard

Max Verstappen scored his second pole of the 2021 season in qualifying at Paul Ricard on Saturday, edging out Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the end of Q3.

The result marked the first non-Mercedes pole since F1 returned to Paul Ricard, with the track having traditionally been one of the German team’s strongest on the calendar.

Red Bull has won the last two races in Monaco and Baku, but as these were on street circuits, the team remained unsure about how it compared to Mercedes for outright pace.

Red Bull F1 boss Horner felt the fact the team had taken pole on a more typical track such as Paul Ricard was encouraging, and that a repeat in the race would give confidence of being able to beat Mercedes anywhere.

“It certainly gives us more confidence, let’s see how tomorrow goes,” Horner said on Sky Sports F1 after qualifying.

“This circuit, it’s been such a stronghold for Mercedes over the recent years. If we can beat them here, then really we can beat them anywhere.

“So there’s a lot at stake. But the whole team is working incredibly well, working long hours. It’s difficult this year because you’ve got the current car, you’ve got next year’s car, you’ve got the cost cap and everything else going on.

“But as a unit, to see the whole team coming together as it is and putting this pressure on Mercedes is phenomenal.”

Polesitter Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, in Parc Ferme

Polesitter Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Red Bull currently leads the constructors’ championship by 26 points, while Verstappen sits four points clear of Hamilton at the top of the drivers’ standings.

Hamilton said after qualifying that he thought Red Bull had “eked a little bit further forwards” since the last race on a permanent track in Spain six weeks ago. 

Verstappen finished a distant fourth in the last grand prix at Paul Ricard, crossing the line 34 seconds off race winner Hamilton.

“I knew it was going to be better than the last time we were here, but this good, I didn’t expect,” Verstappen said.

“So that’s promising for us. We just have to keep on going, keep on pushing to try to make it better.”

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