Hungarian Grand Prix – Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says another pitstop for Max Verstappen would have cost them the opportunity for victory earlier in the race.
Speaking after Max Verstappen finished P2 at the Hungaroring after Red Bull were caught out by a surprise two stopper from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Christian Horner said following suit immediately after the Mercedes stop would have resulted in the team losing track position earlier than they did.
With the pitstops seemingly complete and therefore a straightforward fight to the flag, Hamilton dived into the pits with 22 laps remaining, taking on the Medium tyre. Emerging 21 seconds behind Verstappen, his immediate pace meant that Red Bull couldn’t respond as they would come out behind Hamilton at a track that is very tricky to overtake on.
As a result, Red Bull kept Verstappen on track and tried to get to the end on their original Hard tyre strategy. He was caught by Hamilton with five laps to go, and was powerless to keep the Mercedes behind him.
‘I think Mercedes just had a quicker car in the race today.” said Horner. “To be able to follow within a second was mightily impressive and that gave them all the options for a free stop.”
“To have pitted Max from the lead with them a second behind wouldn’t have been a sensible call for us. Max pulled everything he could and thats as much as we could do.”
“By the end of the second sector, Lewis would have been ahead. So we can see the track position. Losing that wouldn’t make any sense so we tried to hang it out.”
After Verstappen was passed, he pitted for fresh Softs to take the fastest lap point. Horner was asked whether following the Mercedes strategy might have worked out better, considering Max did a low 1:17 on those fresh tyres: “That’s one lap with everything turned up. To have pitted from the lead, the position we were in at that point in the race is an impossible goal.”
“When you have a quicker car, you have a free pit stop and you have got nothing to lose. We’ll pat ourselves down. Max has nailed pole position this weekend and P2 is still a good result. We closed the gap to Valtteri Bottas to around 7 points as well in the Driver’s Championship.”