‘We couldn’t live with that’: Horner explains why Leclerc was able to keep Verstappen at bay in Bahrain

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc won the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix after an entertaining battle with Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Christian Horner has revealed where the bulk of Red Bull’s deficit to Ferrari came at last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc took pole position on Saturday in Sakhir ahead of Max Verstappen, who made lunging moves three times on the Monegasque, all of them eventually to no avail.

The 24-year-old suggested after the race that he “could have been ahead” of the Ferrari had his team given him license to push on his out-laps.

Such was the dominance of the Scuderia though, that Horner believes the Monegasque would still have been able to reclaim the advantage.

READ: Perez reveals if he’s worried about engine reliability heading into Saudi Arabian GP

“I think it’s always a fine margin,” he told Sky F1.

“He felt that he could have done more, and I think that, combined with a slightly quicker stop than the Ferrari, had put us very, very close to them.

“But I think even if we’d have made the pass, I think their pace was such that they would have, with overtaking being a little bit easier now, they would have just overtaken.

“They just had a quicker car, so congrats to them on their one-two finish, zero point for us is tough.

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“But I think the positives we can take is we’ve had a competitive car, we were fighting for the race win at different points of that race.

“We’ve got to get on top of these issues quickly and it’s a long, long season, 23 races, got to get this behind us, get stuck into the next event,” Horner added.

Ultimately, Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez retired late on due to reliability issues, and speculation has since been cooled that these were caused by an FIA standard issue fuel pump.

Nevertheless, Verstappen’s enticing battles with Leclerc were the epitome of the kind of spectacle the new technical regulations are expected to create, and Horner is pleased at the results they appear to have cultivated.

“It looked great, I think the feedback from the drivers has been generally it’s been a little easier to follow,” he added.

“And I think the race between Max and Charles was terrific, it was exactly what we want, if we got a season of that, it’s going to be a hell of a season.”

The Honda power unit appeared to have the edge in the powerful first sector, but Ferrari’s proficiency in the twisty middle part of the lap overwhelmed Red Bull.

READ: Watch: Leclerc rejects lift from Hamilton after winning 2022 Bahrain GP

“We just didn’t quite have their pace, their pace in Sector Two,” Horner explained.

“We were quick in Sector 1, Sector 2 they would nick a couple of tenths out of us and we couldn’t live with that.”

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit offers much longer flat-out sections than Bahrain, so anticipation looms as to whether Red Bull, Ferrari and perhaps Mercedes will have the edge at this weekend’s 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.