Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner feels the first stint from Max Verstappen helped them win in F1 70th Anniversary GP as he had to go for the kill.
Red Bull F1 chief Horner is of the view that the first stint from Verstappen sealed the deal in their win in 70th Anniversary GP at Silverstone after the Dutchman defied the team call to continue pushing when the Mercedes duo were reeling with the tyres.
In fact, Red Bull already got an upperhand when it chose to start the grand prix on hard compound with Verstappen, where Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did it on mediums. The Dutchman could run them well and put the pressure on the Mercedes duo.
Red Bull asked him to take care of the tyres but Verstappen hurried on, something which worked in his favour to eventually secure the win. Horner was in full praise of his driver as he felt the first stint is what made the difference at Silvertsone.
In the first stint when the Mercedes were blistering their tyres quite early in the race, we were able to win a pit stop over the Mercedes,” said Horner. “It was a matter of controlling the race and controlling the tyres accordingly.
“We thought our best chance to take on Mercedes was to do something different by starting on the hard tyre. If you remember last weekend, it was a crucial factor and we were surprised to be the only team to have done this in Q2.
“Our pace compared to the Mercedes was stronger than last week. We had a dominant car and we were able to create an overpath on the Mercedes on an older tyre. Track position enabled us to turn and switch our strategy to the medium tyre later on.
“That put us on a straight pace to the end of the race on the same compound of tyre. All of that was possible because of Max and he managed the tyres with the pace we had on the car. He has a great feeling with the tyres and he manages it incredibly well.
“We know that following a car closely you do damage your tyres. We knew that Mercedes would pit because they were on that softer compounds to begin with. And we wanted to make sure that we would have tyres left to protect.
“In the first stint, Max was very confident that he was protecting and he was really confident that he was protecting the tyres in high speed corners. He was well placed for when they did pit. He was absolutely right.
“He had pace in hands in case Lewis would come back aggressively at some point towards the end of the race,” summed up Horner. On Verstappen side, the Dutchman knew, he had to push through as he spoke in the radio as well.
“I was managing my tyres, of course Mercedes tyres were like, completely gone,” said Verstappen. “I could see the tyres opening up. It was also very expected with these tyres, especially on high fuel, when the car is very heavy.
“But I didn’t just want to sit behind, like I’ve been doing at the previous races all the time, so once I had the opportunity to put a bit of pressure on, I want to do that. So, I tried. I had a big moment once, when I was close to Lewis in Turn 13, because it’s really hard to follow, even when I have the grip advantage with these cars.
“But of course then it was just impossible for them to continue, so they boxed. And that’s where my race started. But I hate sitting back, especially when you see that the car is actually pretty decent. Sometimes it can be a bit of suicide, killing your tyres, trying to hang on desperately but I don’t think that was the case.
“I didn’t expect the win but. I had a good start first of all, so I was straight away into P3, and that helps. Then I knew that the first few laps maybe it would be a bit more difficult to follow, but then I could see both cars in front of me were both having trouble with their tyres as I said. I closed the gap and then once they pitted I could pick up my pace and do my own laps, and basically until I pitted it just felt really good.
“I never really had any struggles and I could extend that first stint, which I think was key. My stop was not great, one wheel was a bit slow, so I came out behind Valtteri but then I had the softer compound, so I had a lot more grip, so I got past Valtteri. Then the gap stayed at like 2.5 to 3 seconds after that and then of course we pitted together.
“Then of course there’s a question mark of who’s going to the fastest to the line. But I think straightaway the car felt good on those tyres again and I never really had any trouble with the tyre and I think that was the key,” summed up Verstappen.
His first win of the 2020 F1 season put him in second with four points lead on Bottas, where both have had one non-scoring race. It is long way in the front, though, with Hamilton 30 points ahead of Verstappen with five rounds done.
Here’s how F1 70th Anniversary GP was
Here’s Ross Brawn on Max Verstappen and Michael Schumacher