Max Verstappen says he and his race engineer were ‘strongly opinionated’ on the strategy they chose for F1 Miami GP, as Christian Horner adds.

Coming off the back of a powerful win from row five, the strategy undertaken by Red Bull’s Verstappen was definitely one to be admired. As is now well known, the Dutchman started on the hard compound and was playing the long game. In short, due to the nature of the track, it could be said he was taking a big risk but he made light work of it as he pretty much went through the field like a knife through butter, not stopping until late in the race.

It was a cool, calculating and ruthless victory by the man who is looking for a hat-trick of titles. At the same time his strategy caused a great a deal of discussion internally. After the hiccup in qualifying, Verstappen and his race engineer was pretty much on about the idea of starting on the hard tyres, but they had to convince the whole team.

“This is something I wondered about already after qualifying, together with my engineer,” said Verstappen. “We were quite strongly opinionated on that already – then, of course, you have to discuss it with the team, with the strategists, and yeah, they were like: ‘OK. In terms of race time, it was very close between doing a Medium/Hard or Hard/Medium”.

“It didn’t really matter. But, of course, when you start on the Hard, the risk is a bit higher because we only had one, so if you had a lap one puncture or whatever, then of course your race is a bit tougher. But I was happy to take that gamble and do it the other way around”.

“I think even if it was the other way around, of course you always have to look after your tyres, also on the Medium – but I just felt like maybe it gave me a better opportunity to get through the field initially. Because I mean, by lap 14 I think, I was already on a podium position, so from there onwards it’s mostly about driving in clean air and you have to look after your tyres anyway.”

Interesting, the hard starting choice wasn’t even mentioned from Pirelli in possible race strategies and yet few chose to do it. Verstappen has won from further back on the grid before of course and starting 14th at Spa springs to mind. He has had some good wins in the past (37) and this flawless drive must be up there. “It’s been a good one,” he said. “I mean, just really staying out of trouble at the beginning”.

“And because, of course, the people around me, you know, they tried to gain positions as quickly as possible on lap one. But knowing that, of course, you have a quick car, then once it all settles down, you just try to pick them up one by one. And that worked out quite well. I had even a three-wide on the straight, which was quite entertaining. And then yeah, we had good pace, I could look after my tyres2.

“And then once I was in clean air, it was just about getting to that lap number we targeted. That’s why maybe in the middle of that stint, I was not entirely sure if I was going to make it. But then I was getting close to the number and I said ‘OK, this is good’. So then I started pushing, I could extend the gap again, which really made my race, I think, because once we pitted, of course, then I had the fresher tyres to the end”.

“But also the tyres, which also were a bit more fragile, so, yeah, then I had a good battle with Checo. I mean, we were free to race, which was said before, and yeah, we had a good go at it. But of course, most importantly, is that we don’t touch but that that all worked out really well,” summed up Verstappen.

He did charge early on to an extent but at the same time was quite patient too. At Miami, just like any other Grand Prix, there is a lot happening in the early stages. “Yeah, I mean, I was in that situation as well in Jeddah, and maybe one or two times last year,” he said. “So you just have to be careful not to have any damage on your car, but it worked out well.”

The strategy was key discussion on the side of Verstappen and Christian Horner noted that it was discussed as much. “The strategy obviously is discussed, all the numbers are run overnight, and we weighed up the pros and cons,” he said. “His engineering team and Max were keen to give that a run today. I was happy to sign it off and say if that’s what you want to do, then okay.”

Last week’s issues, the mistake in Q3 and the race he eventually won from ninth really says a lot about him and why he is a double champion which Horner has praise for. “Yeah, absolutely, I think he’s kept his head,” he said. “He definitely came out of Baku obviously disappointed. And Checo was the faster guy there, particularly on Sunday”.

“And I think he came here really wanting to reassert himself. And then of course, he made a mistake in quali, that then put him on the backfoot. But his pace in the race was quite outstanding. And I think Checo again he drove us very strong race, particularly on the hard tyre. And then I think the damage was done to Checo in that first stint, that he didn’t have enough of a buffer for later in the race.”

Here’s Max Verstappen calling Fernando Alonso a life coach

Here’s Sergio Perez not pushing much against Max Verstappen

Here’s Christian Horner on Adrian Newey, Franz Tost on Helmut Marko

Here’s Max Verstappen, George Russell on their approach

Here’s whats happening between Red Bull and Ferrari with Laurent Mekies