Horner surprised by Red Bull pace

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has admitted that he is as surprised as everyone else about the strong form his team's new RB7 has shown in Australia

Horner surprised by Red Bull pace

Although the reigning world champions had headed into the Albert Park event as favourites, it is the team's advantage over the rest of the field that has raised eyebrows - with Sebastian Vettel eight tenths clear of his nearest challenger.

Horner says that he too did not expect such a level of dominance - as he once again took a cheeky swipe at comments from Lewis Hamilton about Red Bull just being a drinks company rather than a full-on racing team.

"Yes I am surprised by the gap - it is 0.8 seconds," said Horner. "But we are just a fizzy drinks company!

"It is the first time we have taken the fuel out of the car ever, so genuinely we didn't really know what to expect, and Sebastian produced two stunning laps.

"He lost a little bit of time on his last lap on his last sector, but he was up a tenth or two going into the last couple of turns. So it was a phenomenal performance really.

"It is obviously a little bit disappointing to have lost out with Lewis, and the time delta is something we need to understand as it is not something that is usual between the two of them. But this weekend there has been a bit of a gap and we need to understand why."

Horner said his team had come into the Australian weekend genuinely unsure about how strong they would be.

"I think it is so difficult to predict pace in winter testing," he explained. "I know you guys have column inches to fill, but I don't know how you predict the pace because we cannot.

"Obviously McLaren have made a step forward. They have abandoned their exhaust and done a cut and paste with the Red Bull version, which is obviously quite flattering."

Red Bull Racing's record at season-openers has not been great - with the team never having finished on the podium in the first race of a campaign.

However, Horner believes it is only a matter of time before that run of bad form ends.

"There is a first time for anything!" he said. "Ironically our best result here was our first ever race. So despite having won 15 of them since, and two world championships, Australia has been a bit of a bogey circuit for us.

"We were in a great position to win the race last year and, had it not been for a freak wheel nut issue, we made all the right calls on that day with Sebastian.

"People forget he was 10 seconds in the lead at the time, so hopefully we have had a good winter, we feel we come here well prepared and hopefully we can have a strong race.

"But there are a few unknowns. How is the rear wing going to work? Is it going to be a disadvantage to be in the lead? Are pace cars going to have a rogue effect on the race?

"There are so many different permutations, but we have put ourselves in a strong position. And we have achieved our objective of claiming the pole here."

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