Red Bull hoping to challenge Mercedes with split strategies

Red Bull Racing has locked out the second row of the grid for Sunday's United States Grand Prix. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner believes that Red Bull can make life difficult for Mercedes in the US GP, in part because the two dark blue cars will start on different tires.

Horner insists that the Red Bull drivers were given the starting tire strategies they wanted – and thus Daniel Ricciardo has not drawn the short straw by using supersoft tires to get out of Q2 when teammate Max Verstappen had softs.

Although Mercedes followed the soft route with both cars, indicating that it is the optimum choice, Horner says Ricciardo was happy to go with supersofts for the start of the race. That was also the case in Spa, for example, when Red Bull went for a similar split, and the drivers and their engineers agreed with it.

“We discussed it in the briefing,” said Horner. “From the team point of view we’re happy to support both strategies, because tactically sitting here and now it’s not obvious which is better or worse.

“From a team position tactically it’s the right thing to have done, and the drivers both expressed a desire to start the race on the tires they are on. Daniel could get the better start, and it could be worth one or two places.

“Obviously our primary objective is to beat Ferrari, but we’re not just looking behind us, we’re looking for opportunities ahead. We had good race pace on Friday, hopefully we can put that to good effect in the race. Mercedes can’t cover both options, so let’s see.

“I think the deficit between Mercedes and ourselves is similar to between ourselves and Ferrari here. This circuit seems to suit us a little better, slightly less power sensitive than Japan. You can see the pecking order of the cars, lining up two-by-two.”