Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has dismissed claims by Mercedes driver George Russell that the team is holding back its performance to avoid FIA intervention. Horner cited tire management as the reason for their slower pace during the Australian Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen emerged victorious.

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s team principal, has addressed allegations by Mercedes driver George Russell that the team is intentionally slowing down to avoid attracting the attention of the FIA. After Red Bull’s Max Verstappen secured a win at the Australian Grand Prix, Russell suggested that the team was “for sure holding back” its performance to prevent FIA intervention.

Red Bull has been dominant in the 2023 Formula 1 season, claiming all three pole positions and victories thus far. Despite their strong performance, margins of victory have not been as significant as expected. During the Australian Grand Prix, Verstappen’s largest lead was around nine seconds.

Horner dismissed Russell’s claims, stating, “That’s very generous of him. He’d know too well from his team about those kinds of advantages.” Instead, Horner attributed the slower pace to tire management, explaining, “There’s always an element of management that goes on in any race. Because it was a one-stop race and a very early one-stop race, of course, there was an element of tire management going on.”

Verstappen himself dismissed any concerns about FIA intervention, focusing on his team’s ability to manage the tires during the race. Mercedes, on the other hand, will be looking to up their game and close the performance gap in the coming races.

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