Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes floor damage suffered by Max Verstappen cost the Dutchman at least a tenth of a second during qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Verstappen rode the exit kerb of turn two through the apex of turn three, shedding shards of carbon fibre in the process.
The Dutchman, however, showed little signs of the damage affecting him as he stormed to pole position by almost four-tenths of a second ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
“He smacked the bottom of the car pretty hard and because the cars run so low, we have lost a couple of bits of carbon underneath the front of the car,” Horner confirmed, speaking to Sky Sports F1.
“Maybe he carried around one-tenth’s worth of damage through the rest of the sessions. You think, in the first run of Q1 when it is not that pressured, you think ‘Oh no! Not damage’ but he has handled that incredibly well.”
Despite the vast margin between Verstappen and Hamilton, Horner pointed to the pace of the Mercedes drivers on medium tyres in Q2 as a reason to be wary of the world championship-winning constructor’s threat.
“You can see it is nip and tuck,” he added. “The middle session looked like Mercedes had the advantage on the mediums, Max came back at the end on the softs and it looks like Lewis underdelivered a bit on the last lap.
“I think it is going to be very very tight. The whole team has worked tremendously hard to get themselves into this position.
“Mercedes, everyone has written them off over the last few weeks and they are right there and they are going to be right there in the race tomorrow as well.
“It will be a massive challenge for us to beat them but hopefully, we are starting from the best possible place.”