Red Bull Formula 1 boss Christian Horner says that Max Verstappen’s pace in the Miami GP was hampered by floor damage sustained when the Dutchman hit a bollard at the chicane.

Later in the race after a safety car period gave Lando Norris a free stop and the lead Verstappen was unable to challenge the McLaren driver, and gradually fell back.

Horner insisted that the consequences of the earlier incident played a role in allowing Norris to make his escape and consign Verstappen to second place.

“I don’t think we had a great balance all weekend, and then obviously he hit the bollard around lap 20,” he said. “And that’s actually done quite a lot of damage to the underside of the car. So we’d have to look at exactly what the effect of that was.

“He had enough pace at that point, he was he was pulling clear of Oscar [Piastri] behind, and Lando, before we picked up that damage. And then obviously thereafter we then pitted. And the safety car came out at the best time for Lando, it gave him essentially a free stop.

“But obviously not great for us, because then you’re on tyres that are six laps, seven laps older. And with the damage, I think that actually second place was actually still a pretty decent result.”

Expanding on the extent of the damage he said: “It’s a reasonable amount – the area around the left rear floor, there’s a reasonable amount that’s missing, and you can see it will be flexing as well. So it certainly wouldn’t be helpful.”

Asked if Norris had the pace to win without the aid of a safety car intervention giving him track position Horner said it was impossible to know.

“I think what we saw today was it was very difficult to come through the traffic,” he noted. “Who knows? That’s something that we won’t be able to answer, because there wasn’t a huge amount of overtaking in the top 10.

“So it would have all depended on where he came out after his pitstop, which would probably have been third or fourth.”

Horner insisted that with Verstappen’s Saturday sprint win taking into account it had still been a successful weekend for Red Bull.

“I think we have to congratulate Lando on his first victory,” he said. “It’s always a big moment for any grand prix driver to win their first race.

“So congrats to him and to McLaren. But we’ve still managed to score the most points in the drivers’ this weekend with the sprint race yesterday, and the most in the constructors’ as well. So it’s still been a very strong weekend.”

Regarding McLaren’s form he added: “They had good pace in the second half of the race. They were quick on the medium in the sprint race quali.

“We still managed well two poles here this weekend, a sprint victory and we were leading the race had it not been for the safety car. But you can see they’ve definitely made a step forward. So it will be then interesting to see what happens over the next few races once we head back to Europe.”