Saturday’s qualifying session at Jeddah Corniche Circuit was definitely something. A session that lasted around 2 hours and was twice red flagged that ended with Checo Perez’s pole position brought even more crazy things than this. With Lewis Hamilton out in Q1 and Mick Schumacher’s big shunt in Q2 (after which thankfully he’s okay), all eyes are on the fight between Ferrari and Red Bull, both of them occupying the front rows of the grid.
After the session has ended, the crew of SkySportsF1 went for a chat with Christian Horner, the team principal of Red Bull Racing, to ask him about the incredible performance put by Perez, on the day on which 11 years ago he had a debut with Sauber. In regards to that, Horner said: “Just so, so pleased for Checo, I mean 218 or 15 races is is incredible. And you know, he's working harder than ever. That lap was mighty. And we could see it coming and it was coming and it's coming and the Ferrari’s put down such a competitive marker.
“For Checo to go and do that, it’s only the second time I think he's outqualified Max. And, you know, to put in a lap like that here, on the most hardest, most dangerous circuit that we go to, an unbelievable performance from him.
“Whatever he had for lunch, breakfast at dinner last night, we're gonna feed in the same and give the same tomorrow. But what a wonderful performance by him and yeah, just so so happy for him. I think, you know, he's worked incredibly hard. I think the car this year, is more suited, you know, to his style. It's not quite as quirky as last year's car and he's done a great job there.”
Horner was asked about Perez’s qualification performance during his time at Red Bull. Regarding that, he answered: “Saturdays, I think by his own admission have never been the strongest part of his armory. You know, he's always come alive on race day and you know, so to deliver that kind of performance at this circuit. That's great for Checo and it’s doing his confidence a world of good and and we just need to convert that into a great result tomorrow.”
Asked about what a result like this in qualifying means for the team, after last year’s more one sided results, Horner responded: “I think it lifts everybody, but especially Checo’s side of the garage, you know, there's been a lot of winning on the left hand side of the garage, for the right hand side crew you know, they've been so supportive, we are one team but to have their driver get that result, after all the hard work that's going in is is really impressive.”
Max Verstappen was under investigation shortly after the session came to an end, for an alleged crossing of the white line. In regards to the investigation, Horner responded: “I think it's been noted, I think he put a wheel on the white line, as well as few other drivers. So I'd be amazed if there was any any issue with it.”
Horner also shared his outlook on the amazing performance shown by Ferrari so far this season and the possible Red Bull comeback. As he said: “I mean, look, for Ferrari, their car has been so competitive. They obviously started early on this this project. You know, we put a lot into last year and I think you know for all the guys and girls back in Milton Keynes to have a pole position at round two with these all new regulations and to have Max up there on the second row as well. For sure we were late on this project and the recovery that they've put, the effort and the time that they had available has just been, you know, staggering.”
Lastly, Horner was asked about the fuel-related issues from Bahrain that led the team to loose both of their cars in the late stage of the race, and if the team cracked the issue. About that, he said: “I mean, we think we've understood it. But you know, we'll only know at the end of the race, you know, tomorrow. We believe we've you know, we believe we found the problem and the issue. We've addressed the issue but you know, you want to see that checkered flag tomorrow.”