Max Verstappen talks about F1 Dutch GP win amid multiple interruptions as he admits surprise about Mercedes pace, with George Russell adding his view.
It was win number 10 for Red Bull’s Verstappen in 2022 in F1 Dutch GP which has put the Dutchman in a commanding position at the top of the drivers title race. It was a commanding weekend, but it wasn’t all plain sailing.
There were issues with tyre choice at times, particularly around the VSC, all to do with timings, but subsequent safety car period helped him change back to soft where he had the edge over Mercedes who looked better on the harder compound.
Verstappen was indeed surprised by the pace of Mercedes who were challenging Red Bull rather than Ferrari. At the same time, Russell was pretty pleased with his call to switch to soft tyres and be there at the sharp end where they could beat the Italian outfit.
How race panned out, strategy –
Verstappen: “It was just difficult. I think I gave my opinions about what I wanted with tyres. Like, I said, don’t use the Hard tyre. But we had to, because of the VSC. It came out a bit unfortunate. And then we went out and we were clearly lacking a little bit of pace on that Hard compared to the Mercedes cars on the Medium. I think the gap was still big enough to manage it to the end. But they would have definitely gotten a lot closer than I think the 11-and-a-half seconds it was at the time. But yeah, then Safety Car came out and then there’s no way that you can stay out on a Hard tyre. So we had to box, but I didn’t request it. You have to trust your team as well to make the right calls and they did. So they boxed me. We put a Soft tyre on. And of course, then we dropped back. But then also, of course, George also pitted for Softs and then we were back into P2. And yeah, surprisingly, we had a really good restart and then with the extra top speed we have over Mercedes, I could get a run into Turn 1.”
Fight against Mercedes and not Ferrari –
Verstappen: “I was just surprised that they were that quick on the harder compounds. I have to say these tyres are very stiff, you know, the C1, C2. And they just didn’t seem to really switch on for us as good as they did for them. That’s I think what made it a little bit more complicated for us today. But then, once we were able to switch back to the Soft, we could counter it. But yeah, I expected probably them to be a little bit slower. And I expected Ferrari to be a little bit faster.”
Mercedes strategy, them being good on harder compounds –
Verstappen: “I have to say, when I swapped to the Medium, of course, I was catching them, which is normal because I had a newer tyre, they were still doing good lap times, I have to say. And then yes, as soon as they swapped to the Hard, I was quite interested to see their pace, because I never really wanted to go to a Hard tyre. But yeah, when I heard the lap times, I was like… ‘that’s quite quick’. And I was trying to push up a bit. But they were still a few tenths faster. So yeah, very surprising that they made it work, that tyre around here. But then I knew, of course, it might get close to the end of the race, with the way our strategies were playing out. But then, of course, the gap after the VSC was still getting big enough to manage. But yeah, clearly, they were quick in the race.”
Impressive hard tyre pace by Mercedes –
Russell: “Yes and no. I think the car was really feeling good this weekend from lap one. On Friday, I knew it was going to be a much better weekend than we had in Spa. I think Spa played against us. Zandvoort probably towards us. So, I’m not sure how our Monza performance is going to be I think it’ll probably be somewhere between the two. Hopefully closer to what we saw this weekend, but I think it’s really promising we have so much race pace.”
Strategy, chasing down Verstappen –
Russell: “Yeah, I think we had nothing to lose; we were pushing absolutely flat out and we knew that was our only opportunity to fight for victory. And, you know, pre-race, in our strategy meetings, we said, we need to be bold in our decisions to be able to fight for victory. And I think, starting on that Medium, it was clear that the others were going to be doing a two-stop. And, as I said, we just absolutely went for it. And when we saw Max in our sights, that was really exciting. It was probably, for me personally, the most enjoyable race I’ve ever had in Formula 1, just being able to push so hard for so long on such an exceptional circuit as well. I think it was really quite fun.”
As noted about, it was a tough race for Red Bull and Verstappen but the fact is that they won handsomely to extend their lead over Ferrari. For Mercedes, they overall were the best of the rest on race day and they are improving fast, surely, despite their success over the last number of seasons, nobody would begrudge them a victory by either driver before the end of the seasons end.
Here’s Lewis Hamilton on his frustrations