Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Horner: Red Bull still way off competing with Mercedes and Ferrari

Horner: Red Bull still way off competing with Mercedes and Ferrari

It was a bittersweet qualifying session for Red Bull Racing in Melbourne after Max Verstappen split the Ferraris, while Pierre Gasly failed to make it out of Q1.

Hamilton's pacesetting time of 1:23.599 was a mere 0.038s quicker than perennial Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel, with Charles Leclerc right behind his new team-mate in third.

The one I'm really interested in is Red Bull. Putting in just one run, the Frenchman was budged out during the first part of the session, and will start a lowly 17th for the first race.

Having switched from Renault power to a Honda engine for 2019, Horner had previously said the move could be the "missing ingredient" for Red Bull after frustrations with their former supplier. "Of course, there are always areas to improve and we are not fast enough yet but it's only the first day of the season and there is a long way to go".

Red Bull
Jacques Villeneuve

"In general, the vehicle felt alright with medium and soft tyres but we still need to fully understand the compounds", said Verstappen. "My running was also a little different to the others in terms of preparation and there is definitely some lap time in that".

Verstappen's early pace in the new Red Bull-Honda also gives the new partnership encouragement heading into the remainder of the weekend.

"The rumours are they found 15 kilowatts over the winter - that's potentially half the deficit to Mercedes and Ferrari. We need to stay positive and tomorrow will be about learning about the auto and hopefully gaining some positions".

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