Christian Horner joked after the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix that he should thank Toto Wolff for Technical Directive TD039, as Red Bull were even faster in Spa.
Toto Wolff was pushing for the FIA’s TD related to ‘porpoising’ especially as Mercedes were suffering from it the most, as the Austrian hinted Red Bull and Ferrari were doing something illegal.
In Spa, Formula 1‘s governing body had TD039 – issued to clamp down on the phenomenon – in full effect with all teams modifying their cars to comply with it.
As it turned out, Red Bull were on a different level, Max Verstappen driving in circles around everyone else, as he took a dominant victory from 14th on the grid finishing over 17 seconds ahead of his teammate.
As Mercedes seemed to be even worse in Spa, Christian Horner – naturally – could not resist taking a swipe at his Mercedes counterpart.
Speaking to the media after the race, Horner said: “On the face of it I’d probably have to thank Toto for the TD! In all seriousness, I think this circuit has played to our strengths.
Verstappen was phenomenal
“We have a very efficient car, we’ve found a very good setup and Max has just been in phenomenal form the very first lap in first practice.
“Obviously, strategically we chose to take the penalty here. 14th became 13th technically (because of Pierre Gasly last minute penalty starting from the pitlane). So many penalties were taken. This was the starting point with everybody else.
“But of course, Max still had to navigate his way through the pack. He did that very, very efficiently over the first couple of laps. As a result Max hit the front far quicker than we could have ever expected,” he admitted.
“The soft tyre seemed to work for him very well as well in that first stint,” Horner went on. “Thereafter the pace that we had with both Max and Checo was enough to easily pass Carlos and bring home probably one of the most dominant performances that we’ve had as a team since either 2010 or 2013.
“I think it’s right up there with that period,” the Red Bull boss mused. “I don’t think we’ve ever won a race starting from 14th on the grid.
“As I said a phenomenal performance. A lot of credit has to go into the people of the team behind the scenes. What you see here is obviously the end product and the drivers obviously having to optimise that to the best.
“It’s what goes on behind the scenes and all the unsung heroes back in Milton Keynes that have done a tremendous job with this car and obviously with the power unit,” the Briton added crediting the whole team.
Perez didn’t struggle, Verstappen was in a league of his own
Asked why Sergio Perez struggled in Belgium, Horner suggested that it wasn’t the case of the Mexican struggling as much as it was a dominant display by Verstappen
“Max was quite simply in a league of his own today, and not just today. All weekend,” he claimed. “He has excelled here in the past and today he has basically smashed it out of the park. I mean, he did a lap on mediums that still stood as the fastest lap despite Charles Leclerc having a go at the end on a set of soft.
“So, he qualified on pole on two sets of soft tyres throughout the whole of qualifying and didn’t even do the last run. It’s been a huge performance by him this weekend,” Horner insisted.
Red Bell were rumoured to have brought a new lightweight chassis to Spa, but in what should be a worrying statement to their rivals, Horner said they didn’t.
“Well, no, we didn’t bring it,” he said when asked about it. “And no, we don’t have one…so no, it wasn’t a factor in the performance.
“A lot was made and a lot of expectation was placed on that TD. Arguably perhaps it’s hurt others more than its hurt ourselves. We haven’t really changed how we operate, the car. Obviously, grounding here is always an issue because of Eau Rouge. But that’s not unique to us. That’s the same for every team,” the 48-year-old explained.
Horner insisted the RB18 in Belgium was “identical” to the one that raced in Hungary in terms of weight, and that no new lightweight chassis will be coming soon, as “these chassis will run for the next few races”.
Red Bull now have a comprehensive lead on both Championships with Verstappen leading the Drivers’, Sergio Perez second behind him, while Ferrari are now by 118 points behind the Melton Keynes outfit in the Constructors’.