Christian Horner hoping for a Lewis Hamilton 'apology'

Red Bull principal Christian Horner is expecting Lewis Hamilton to apologise for again making contact with Alex Albon when he was in podium contention.

The Safety Car had returned to the pits following Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement, and Albon went about taking P2 away from Hamilton.

Both Mercedes were struggling with gearbox sensor issues and were told to stay off the kerbs.

And using DRS Albon had a run on Hamilton down into Turn 4, shades of the classic Brazilian Grand Prix of last year.

Based on Hamilton's reaction, he's not at fault for the incident with Albon. #F1 | #AustrianGP

— JJ (@TomcatNASCAR_2) July 5, 2020

But just like what happened at Interlagos back in November, Hamilton and Albon collided with the Red Bull man sent into the gravel and to the back of the pack, once again ending his hopes of a first podium finish.

Hamilton was given a five-second penalty, meaning he dropped from P2 to P4, whilst Albon would retire from the race shortly before the end.

After their first coming together back in Brazil Hamilton apologised for the incident, and Horner is hoping for another one.

“It’s been one of those days, this sport can be pretty brutal sometimes and it feels like today has been one of those days,” he told Sky F1.

“Alex drove a good race, he didn’t deserve that, five seconds [penalty] doesn’t do anything for him.

“He could have won that race, strategically we had made the right call to have gone on to the soft tyres, he was in a strong position.

“Twice in three races, you’d start to think he’s got something in for him.

“There was a very similar incident the other way around where Alex squeezed him but gave him enough room at the start of the race.

“You can say that [you need to be patient], but he got the job done, the pass was made, it wasn’t like he was on the entry or whatever, so what overtake is safe at the end of the day?

“I doubt Lewis was every going to wave him past, so we had to use that grip advantage [of the soft tyres] and the grip is in the corners.

“So he has done that. It was just a misjudgement by Lewis at the end of the day, it would be good if he apologised for it.”

Horner said the problem which caused Albon to retire late on was a “totally different” issue to the one which had earlier handed team-mate Max Verstappen a DNF.

“No, it looks something totally different, it looks like something on the power unit side with Alex,” he said.

“But we don’t know whether that’s a result of the knock that he’s had in the trip through the gravel, so we need to get the car back.

“We turned the engine off as a precaution.”

Asked for any positives from the weekend, Horner replied: “That it’s over.

“Coming out with zero points having been in a position to challenge for a victory with Max early on, again we got the tyre call right there and he would have had a really competitive afternoon.

“And for Alex to come away with zero points, in what is going to be a shortened season, feels pretty brutal.

“The positives are we were able to put together a competitive race, but we have some pace to find before next weekend, some work to do, and we will come back in a weeks’ time to try and do a bit better.”

Hamilton has since said that he thought the crash was a “racing incident”.

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Horner explains reasons behind DAS protest

Christian Horner has said Red Bull wanted “clarity” over the legality of Mercedes innovative dual-axis steering system.

After seeing the return of DAS during Friday practice ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull lodged an official protest to the FIA alleging that the system was in breach of the regulations.

The governing body declared it legal in the early hours of Saturday morning in Austria and gave a lengthy explanation as to why it was in compliance with the rules.

There was a suggestion that Red Bull would perhaps appeal the decision, but Horner revealed during his response that he now considers the matter to be closed.

“We wanted to get clarity,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

“We wanted to protest at the earliest point of the weekend so it didn’t interrupt with the race result. So it would either be legal or illegal on Friday so it would then give Mercedes a chance to rectify that either way for Saturday and Sunday.

“Having seen it [DAS] on the car on Friday, we chose to use the avenue of a protest to achieve that clarity.

“We informed Mercedes prior to putting in the protest.

“Basically, the system is very, very complicated and it comes into question: what is a steering wheel for?’

“The stewards obviously back the decision [that DAS is legal] and so we have that clarity now.

“If we want one [our own DAS system] we will have to design that and incorporate it.”

Asked what Mercedes are actually using DAS for, Horner added: “It’s for achieving balance shifts during tyre warm-up, particularly after Safety Car periods, in that respect it has nothing to do with the steering of the car because they will only use it in a straight line.

“But that’s sometimes the ambiguity that these regulations create although it has been tidied up for next year.

“We didn’t feel, from the engineering feedback we had, that DAS wasn’t fully compliant with the regs this year.

“So that’s why we questioned it and got that clarity late last night so as far as we are concerned it’s all closed now.

“It is what it is. Hats off to Mercedes, it is a clever system but whether to incorporate that for this year when it is getting banned for next year, is going to be very difficult.”

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Christian Horner bullish about Max Verstappen's Austrian chances

Christian Horner thinks Max Verstappen is in “good shape” for the start of this season as he chases a third successive Austrian GP win.

Red Bull showed good form during pre-season testing, second quickest behind Mercedes.

The team’s pace coupled with an ever-more reliable Honda engine has many pundits predicting that Red Bull will be Mercedes’ main challenger in this year’s championship.

Facing a shortened 2020 championship, at present has only eight races have been confirmed, every grand prix counts for more with drivers paying a huge price for mistakes.

The season begins with a double header at the Red Bull Ring, which is not only Red Bull’s home circuit but also a venue where Verstappen has won the last two years running.

Horner is hoping he adds a third, maybe even a fourth, this year.

“Both Alex [Albon] and Max are raring to get going but for the latter it is a chance for him to achieve his third straight win in Austria,” said the team boss.

“Max took two brilliant wins in 2018 and 2019 and is looking in good shape for the start of this season.

“He has been working hard on his endurance training and is possibly in even better condition than he was when we first went into the lockdown.

“Max lives for racing and is capable of beating anyone to the title, providing we give him the tools to do it.”

Horner, though, acknowledges that it is Mercedes who go into the new season as the favourites.

Not only is the Brackley squad seeking a seventh straight Constructors’ Championship title but Lewis Hamilton is also chasing a seventh World title.

Horner added: “Let’s not forget, Mercedes go in to this season as the clear favourites, they are six-time World Champions.

“But,” he said, “we feel as though we are in a very good place and go into the season with the mindset to challenge what has become the status quo.”

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