Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has revealed that there was an issue with re-fuelling on Sergio Perez’s car that meant he was late out for the final run in Q3 in Azerbaijan.
Team-mate Max Verstappen asked the team on the radio why he was being sent out first after he looked across the garage to see that the Mexican still had his tyre blankets on, and he was told that there was an issue.
Perez would go on to set a lap good enough for second behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc as he out-qualified the reigning champion for the third time this year, but he appeared frustrated that he did not get a proper crack at pole position.
The result was that Perez could not get a tow from Leclerc, Carlos Sainz or Verstappen, and his out lap had to be quicker to account for the delay, so he had less time to warm up his tyres.
Horner told both his drivers that they had done a good job after the session, and he detailed what had gone wrong in the back of Perez’s car.
“There was a small issue with the refuelling that delayed him [Perez] unfortunately. I think it was just a numbers error,” he explained.
“It’s a shame for Checo because he didn’t get the benefit from a tow, but he did have the perfect out-lap. His performance was mighty. With a tow, it might have been close [for pole], but I still don’t think we would have had the pace to nail Charles today.”
Despite missing out on pole in each of the last three rounds, Red Bull have still won all of them, so Horner is optimistic for Sunday’s race.
“I think they [Ferrari] had the upper hand over a single lap, we’ve focused more on tomorrow than today and we’re second and third,” added the 48-year-old.
“We’ve seen this year some great racing between ourselves and Ferrari. This year’s cars have demonstrated you can follow a little closer and overtake. We’ll be hoping to make use of that tomorrow.”
Three of Red Bull’s five wins this season have come from outside the front row, and the chaos that is normally seen in Baku give Verstappen and Sainz a good chance despite qualifying third and fourth respectively.