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Christian Horner

Horner eyes advantage in slender Verstappen qualifying defeat

The Red Bull boss immediately eyed an opening for Max Verstappen despite his qualifying defeat to Lando Norris at the Spanish Grand Prix.

To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Christian Horner has eyed an advantage in Max Verstappen's qualifying defeat to Lando Norris for pole at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Holding provisional pole, Verstappen was defeated by just 0.020s by Norris after the second Q3 runs for his second career pole, first since the 2021 Russian GP and McLaren's first in Barcelona since Kimi Raikkonen in 2005.

Although Verstappen will now be starting on the so-called 'dirty side of the grid', the run down to Turn 1 at the track is among the longest on the calendar at nearly 600 metres.

In the past, the likes of Fernando Alonso (2011, 2013), Nico Rosberg (2016) and Verstappen himself in 2021 have been able to seize the lead into Turn 1 despite not starting on pole. 

It was this Horner spied as a potential opportunity for Verstappen at the start.

"It is such fine margins - we matched the pole time in Montreal and then miss out by two-hundredths here, but it was a great performance by Max and the team," Horner told Viaplay.

"It is one of the longest runs down to Turn 1 of the year [at 594 metres], so second place isn't necessarily a disadvantage here.

"There is the chance of some rain as well on the forecast, particularly tomorrow morning, so it could be another exciting race - but I just don't think it is going to be about the start.

"It is going to be about tyres and the degradation of the left-hand side tyres and how they survive. 

"We've done some good work to improve the car and starting on the front row is a fantastic place to be."

Perez's qualifying

Horner also touched on the result of Sergio Perez, who made it through to Q3 for the first time since Miami. 

He took eighth quickest - the meat in an Alpine Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon sandwich, but will drop to 11th following his grid penalty for the unsafe driving in Canada.

This will shuffle Ocon, Oscar Piastri and Fernando Alonso all forward one place, with Horner confident Perez will still score points. 

"He's made it through to Q3 which is good progress, but he takes the three-place penalty unfortunately because of Montreal," added Horner.

"But he could score good points from there and that's what we need from him."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix - Qualifying