“Carlos was defending like his life depended on it” – Christian Horner

Carlos Sainz finished on the third position at the 2023 Italian Grand Prix behind the two Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

The Spaniard, who secured his first pole position of the season in Monza – his fourth in Formula One – led the race for the first 14 laps. He initially managed to keep Max Verstappen in P2, who was less than a second behind for most of the time. However, a lock-up at turn 1 from Sainz allowed Verstappen to capitalize, and the Dutchman overtook the Ferrari driver at Variante della Roggia (turn 4). Verstappen then pulled away to comfortably win the race, securing his 10th consecutive F1 victory. This broke the record for the most consecutive race wins, previously co-held by himself and Sebastian Vettel.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the race, the Red Bull Racing team principal was questioned about the early-race duel between Sainz and Verstappen.

“Well, look, I mean, we had to do it the hard way,” Horner said.
“The Ferraris were very quick today, and we saw that in qualy yesterday. And Carlos was defending like his life depended on it. So first of all, Max had to get that pass done, and then we were able to pull out a gap. And I think they were just a little bit harder on their tyres than we were. And Checo making some great moves to come through and get that one, too, which, of course, gives Max now 10 victories in a row, which is breaking a record from Sebastian 10 years ago, which is an incredible moment.”

Sky Sports F1 pundit and former F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg probed Horner further on the Sainz-Verstappen skirmish:

Rosberg : “Just one more time, I want to come back to the race today, that defending between Carlos and Max, which was incredible to watch. From your point of view, was your team manager saying, “hey, that’s too aggressive, that’s not on”? Because even Max said “hey, that’s a naughty boy”.

Horner : “Yeah, there was a few comments raised. I mean, Carlos was very robust. He was a little late at times. He moved a bit. I mean, look, he’s driving a Ferrari, at Monza. He’s going to defend for his life. So we kind of expected it. And when both guys managed to get down the inside, they managed to make that move stick.

Rosberg : “For us, it was within regulation, because Max was never totally in front, you know, and that’s what matters.”

Horner : “Look, it was on the limit. It was great racing. And for us, to win here, it’s massive.”

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