Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen reflect on the strategic display in F1 Spanish GP, where the former’s team outdid the latter’s despite Turn 1 loss.
It seemed like Red Bull had some advantage after Verstappen passed Mercedes’ Hamilton at Turn 1 in F1 Spanish GP, on a circuit difficult to overtake. The Dutchman rallied on, but the Brit didn’t leave his sights all-through the first stint.
Verstappen flinched first into the pits, which was a late call, as Hamilton stayed for nearly five laps longer. The Dutchman just retook the lead and looked under control until the roll of the dice from Mercedes to pit the British driver again, with Valtteri Bottas in the game.
The move – similar to 2019 Hungarian GP – was possible as Mercedes had Bottas close by, while Sergio Perez was still a bit far. Once Hamilton pitted and Verstappen stayed out, it was just a waiting game and a formality for the Brit to close in and probably pass him.
Even though Verstappen and Red Bull tried to press on, but both him and Christian Horner knew the inevitable result and so focused on getting the fastest lap. Speaking about the whole race and the strategic display, Hamilton was happy to get over the line.
“It was really interesting because all weekend, a one-stop strategy was the quickest way to the end of the race but this is one of the most abrasive circuits that we go to in terms of how aggressive it is with the tyres,” started Hamilton. “It isn’t easy to make these tyres go that distance – even when the track was a lot cooler this weekend than perhaps it was last year here, and compared to how it was in qualifying.
“All these little details have an affect on how these tyres last – but still, it is a really challenging circuit to save them and make them go the distance. So, I think it was quite clear early on to me, particularly of how close I was pushing to keep within a second, or just over a second behind Max. I knew that I was going to a two-stop strategy and then the team told me and I was like: ‘nothing new’.
“Of course, when I came out 20-odd seconds behind, I thought that’s going to be… it seemed so far, it’s such a huge gap to close but when you see the time difference that we had. I was in the mid-20s and he was mid-22s, or sometimes late 22s. I had plenty of laps to catch-up – but I didn’t know whether or not I would have enough pace at the end tyre-wise but then you just have to offset: he’s going to have even worse pace at the end. It was, as I said, the perfect strategy,” summed up Hamilton.
At the same time, Verstappen conceded being too slow eventually. He couldn’t really build a gap, which showed that Mercedes had solid pace all-through. They also managed to keep their tyres for long, which was key in Hamilton eventually winning it.
“[We were] too slow, that’s how you sum it up,” started Verstappen. “There’s not much else to really discuss. I tried everything to manage it as good as I could, looking after tyres and stuff, but it’s just not enough when behind you they are just pushing you at the rate you see there’s clearly a bit more pace.
“You, of course, try to keep up with it and do the best possible strategy you can, but even if I think we had gone, let’s say, for that earlier second stop, I don’t think I would have caught Lewis up after that – because on the Mediums I think I was just a bit slower – because for Lewis to be that close on a track like this, all the time within a second, sometimes having DRS it just shows that, yeah, there was not much I could do out there to make a difference. But, nevertheless, I think still, of course, a good result.
“Of course, you always want more. I think that always needs to be the aim. I think that we shouldn’t be happy with a second place at the moment, but yeah, nevertheless, we tried everything. I got ahead at the start, so basically you really try to go for it. And then, of course, it looks good when you are leading for so long in the race – but you have to also look to all the things that are happening throughout the race.
“I think, overall, we were just lacking a little bit of pace in the race. It has been like this a little bit so far this season where it seems like qualifying, we are quite competitive and in the race struggling a little bit more. We just need a faster car. It’s very simple. Then you don’t need to get into a situation like that of one stop vs two stop. That’s what we have to focus on,” summed up Verstappen.
Here’s what Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen said about Turn 1 fight
Here’s how F1 Spanish GP panned out