Red Bull Formula 1 team principal Christian Horner was pleased his side was able to split the Ferrari duo having pulled off a strong strategy at the Chinese Grand Prix.

In an attempt to get Max Verstappen into the fight for the podium, Red Bull triggered the leading runners into a two-stop strategy when he pitted for Hard tyres on Lap 18.

Having found himself marginally behind Sebastian Vettel after both drivers had stopped, Verstappen pulled off a DRS-assisted pass with a lunge into the Turn 14 hairpin, though he locked up, enabling Vettel back into a net third.

The Dutchman dropped back from Vettel but was able to beat Charles Leclerc to fourth place when Leclerc finally pitted following a long opening stint.

“I think good strategy managed to nick a place ahead of the Ferraris today,” Horner told Sky Sports.

“They probably in all honesty were slightly quicker in the race, but I think strategy got us that position on Leclerc, and obviously Max has driven the wheels off the car all afternoon.

Asked what Red Bull is lacking compared to Mercedes and Ferrari, Horner replied: “I think we had a good weekend here. I think the chassis has actually made a good step forward. In all of the corners we’re performing well.

“Honda have made progress on the straights. We’ve still got that bit to find to the cars ahead. Sector 3 has been our weaker area today, but there’s stuff in the pipeline that should hopefully help us with that in the near future.”

Verstappen felt Red Bull got the most out of the race thanks to its strategy.

“I think there was not much in it,” he said. “I was pushing really hard to try and stay with them. I think as a team we did a good job today to undercut a Ferrari and stay ahead as well. We maximised the result to be honest.

“I think so far every weekend is a bit of a guess what you are doing and how competitive you are as well. You never know. I had a good battle with Seb, but even after that, you could clearly see after that we didn’t have the pace to fight them. At least I tried. It was fun.”

Pierre Gasly scored his best result of the season in a distant sixth, while the Frenchman also made the most of a late free pit stop to switch onto Soft tyres and set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, snatching the bonus point away from Vettel.

“Points mean prizes - I think at the end of the year, they all add up,” Horner said.

“It’s good. It was a free stop, there was an opportunity on the last two laps to go for the lap time. Pierre still had to deliver it and it was a good lap. Hopefully he’ll take some good confidence out of that.”

Gasly said he was left with mixed emotions after ending up well adrift of Verstappen once again.

Asked if he was happy with his performance, Gasly said: “Yes and no. For sure I’m happy to get my first fastest lap in Formula 1. We saw we had a free pit stop and decided to go for it.

“After that I think slowly, the feeling is improving inside the car. There is still a lot of work to do. Slowly we are getting there. We do one step every weekend. For sure I would like to do three, and for things to go faster. We’ll keep working.

“I think in the beginning [of the race] I tried to not drop too much with the Soft tyres to the top five on the Mediums and tried to take care of it, but I was progressively dropping back. After that, I didn’t see much in the race.”


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