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Horner: Turn 6 deficit behind Red Bull's Qatar F1 gap to Mercedes

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes a weakness in one corner was behind the deficit between the team and Mercedes at last week's Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton dominated the Qatar GP weekend to take a second consecutive win, which brought the championship gap with Red Bull's Max Verstappen down to eight points with two races left to run of a hotly contested 2021 world championship.

Verstappen was in for a weekend of "damage limitation" after coming up short in qualifying and being handed a five-place grid penalty, which he executed perfectly by moving back up to second and grabbing the extra point for the fastest lap.

When asked what the difference was between the two rival outfits, Horner believes Red Bull's weakness in Losail's Turn 6 was the main point of deficit to Mercedes, which the Milton Keynes outfit is keen to investigate ahead of next weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

"I think there's one corner that's differentiated us all weekend and it's been Turn 6 ," Horner said about Losail's slowest corner, a tight left-hander.

"We lost two tenths a lap every lap from Friday to Sunday at that corner and I think that's one the things we need to go and understand and where we need to improve."

With its long straights and flat-out sections, the Jeddah street circuit is promising to be a strong track for Mercedes, particularly given Hamilton is set to re-use his fresher power unit introduced to great effect in Sao Paulo.

Mercedes' Andrew Shovlin agreed his team primarily made the difference in cornering, after much has been said about its straight-line speed in Brazil.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, and Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, and Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

"In some recent tracks we've been matching Red Bull in the corners and extracting a benefit in the straight-line but in Qatar it ended up being the opposite," the Mercedes director of trackside engineering said in the team's post-race debrief.

"We were matching them in the straight line and finding all our time in the corners.

"Where does that time come from? Well, really there are two areas. One is the downforce that you can get on the car and clearly, our package was working quite well there, helping us generate a lot of apex speed.

"But then also you've got the balance of the car and that's the thing that we tune with the mechanical settings, the springs and bars, also the front wing.

"Our drivers had a balance they were very happy with, they had stability on the way in, they could attack the corner, carry speed and ultimately you saw the demonstration of that with that fantastic lap from Lewis for pole position."

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Horner acknowledged the Saudi circuit "should favour Mercedes" but believes Abu Dhabi's reworked Yas Marina Circuit could offer a fascinating title showdown if Hamilton were to also win in Jeddah.

"The next track arguably should favour Mercedes, Abu Dhabi with the modifications made there, who knows?," he added.

"But it's been incredibly tight. So going into these last races, eight points in the lead in the drivers' championship, we've reduced the championship lead in the constructors to five points.

"So, both are fully in play and that's fantastic because we’re now at the climax of this world championship."

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