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Horner admits to Red Bull relief after 'payback' by Verstappen

Christian Horner has praised his Red Bull team for the way they bounced back from their disappointing double DNF in Bahrain.

Christian Horner says Max Verstappen's victory in Saudi Arabia was the best possible reward for the Red Bull team. It came after a hard week of working to diagnose and fix the fuel system issue that resulted in both Verstappen and Sergio Perez retiring in the closing stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Having held off Charles Leclerc for victory, after overtaking the Ferrari driver in the final laps in Jeddah, Verstappen kicked off his title defence for a Red Bull team that went into the second race of the year without a point on the board. "It's great to be on the board," Horner told the F1 Nation podcast after the race. "I think, after the difficulties of last weekend [in Bahrain], the bounce back from the team was outstanding. "The support we had from the factory throughout the week, the mechanics, the engineers, the way that they've worked on these cars in difficult conditions, has been absolutely first class. "[In] that race, Max paid them back in the best way possible with a great victory. It was such a competitive race between ourselves and Ferrari – it was just really fine margins." As Leclerc kept up with Verstappen after the Dutchman's decisive move, Horner admitted that he didn't particularly enjoy watching the last few laps of the race. "I was just relieved to see the chequered flag. I'd have liked to have seen it about three laps earlier!" he said.

Horner expects Perez to come back fighting

Verstappen had taken over the mantle as the lead Red Bull after an ill-timed Safety Car shuffled Perez from the lead down to fourth place, handing Leclerc the advantage. Following Perez's maiden F1 pole position on Saturday, Horner empathised with his driver's annoyance at how the race had played out. "[It was] desperately unlucky for Checo [Perez]," he said. "I mean, he made the start, he was controlling the race, he would have won that race without that Safety Car intervention, but sometimes they work for you, sometimes they go against you. "He was desperately unlucky on what had been a really competitive weekend for him." Asked whether Perez was distraught, or had been philosophical about the situation, Horner explained that the Mexican remained level-headed. "He's disappointed but he's level about it," he commented. "He understands [there's] nothing we could have done [and] when he reflects on the whole weekend, that blistering pole position, his first-ever, he will take a lot of confidence out of this weekend. "He was quick in the race as well, he had everybody covered, so it's frustrating for him, but he'll still take a lot out of it."

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