Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Silverstone, 2020

Verstappen was “absolutely right” to overrule call to save tyres – Horner

2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen proved he was right to disregard an instruction from his engineer not to risk damaging his tyres, said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

After taking the unique step of qualifying on the hard rubber, Verstappen closed on the leading Mercedes drivers early in the race. He was warned not to risk his tyres by following them too closely, but told his team “this is the only chance of being close to the Mercedes – I’m not sitting behind like a grandma.”

Horner explained why the team initially urged Verstappen to take care. “We know that following a car closely you do damage your tyres,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “We knew that Mercedes would pit because they were on that softer compound, to begin with.

“We wanted to make sure that we could make hay while the sun was shining and have tyres left.”

However Verstappen’s sensitivity to his rubber allowed him to stay close without hurting his tyres, said Horner.

“He’s got a great feeling for these tyres. We’ve seen him on numerous occasions, managing the tyres incredibly well.”

“He was really protecting those tyres through the high-speed corners and was well placed for when they did pit,” Horner added. “And he was absolutely right. He managed that lap incredibly well. Likewise on the medium tyre when we ran it.”

Verstappen ran a short, six-lap stint on medium tyres before switching back to the harder rubber for the run to the flag. By this time he had both the Mercedes behind him, including Lewis Hamilton, who delayed his final pit stop to have fresher tyres for final laps.

“At the end of the race he had pace in hand just in case Lewis started to really come back at him, aggressively on his much fresher tyre,” said Horner.

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47 comments on “Verstappen was “absolutely right” to overrule call to save tyres – Horner”

  1. So ok…
    Good they knew the tyres worked for them. Otherwise it would have been quite a different story.

    1. Golden child rule :) Whatever/however right/wrong the fav child do/says is praised or excused.

  2. Max, the best driver in the field. Would love to see him in a Merc.

  3. This is what I’ve been saying. Teams are focused on play safe always.
    They prefer to play safe and finish third without fight than fight, appear on tv fighting, promoting the brand, etc and worst case scenario have to stop once more and still be third.
    Thank god Max disregard that suggestion.

    Teams are probably complaining about the tires but finally a race where some pit once, and some three times, with different strategies and approaches and not only “let’s all stop at the same lap and drive peacefully and uneventfully for 300 km”

    1. They didn’t advise Max to save his tyres to protect his 3rd place, but so he would still be able to charge to 1st place when the Mercs pitted. As it turned he could stay close to Hamilton while still preserving his tires, but if it had been one or the other, preserving the tires was the important thing to do.

    2. ironically, these degrading tires were introduced spice things up.

    3. While I agree to an extend, not every driver can do what the likes of Verstappen can do, it’s not a skill that every driver on the grid has. So yeah, Verstappen overruling the call makes sense because of his ability on managing tires, this is not the first time it has granted him a race win after all, but another driver could very well ignore the call and end up having to pit earlier or lose significant pace in later parts of the stint because they cooked their tires.

      1. Indeed, Bottas didnt’t overrule the call to pit behind Max in the same lap, even though ‘oposite to VER’ would have made more sense… or Gasly, who says he felt that pitting on lap 8 to cover for Albon was not the right choice but still did it.

        Only Lewis and Max seem to have the clarity during a race to push the strategy to where they feel is better for their car, for their abilities.

        1. @gechichan I think ‘opposite to VER’ has little value if it ends up as staying out one more lap, clearly the undercut is the best, but if Verstappen is pitting, I’d say go in right behind him: if something goes wrong on the Red Bull stop the Merc will have the right of way in the fast lane, as their box is further behind.

  4. All the hard tyre gambling and Max decision to push won’t happen if the commercial holder get along with Pirelli recommendation and choose conservative tyres. The whole season excitement depend on this.

    1. It seems like the commercial rights holder has all the reason to not go conservative here. They need excitement to make up for all the losses the pandemic caused; another Mercedes snorefest would certainly not help.
      The Ferrari looks especially well suited for these soft tires; Leclerc only needed one stop.

      So when soft tires bring excitement and help Ferrari then they really don’t have a choice, right?

      1. The ‘commercial rights holder’ has no say in this; FIA organises the sporting part of F1.

        I hope they read your last line though.

    2. @ruliemaulana I’d rather ‘conservative’ tires that let drivers push hard & actually race wheel to wheel than going back to ‘extreme high degredation’ formula tire where everybody is cruising around at 70% all day managing tires unable to push for more than 2-3 corners without destroying them.

      There is a reason they started going more conservative & that is that nobody liked the tires when they were softer. Drivers hated them as they couldn’t push & fans hated them because watching drivers cruising around at 70% not been challenged at all wasn’t fun.

      Yesterday’s ‘race’ featured very little competitive racing which should be the opposite of what fans want. Give them harder tires that let drivers push hard so we can see more competitive wheel to wheel racing rather than easy drive by’s created by tires that artificially fall apart resulting in drivers been left defenceless.

      1. When was that? Competitive wheel to wheel racing with harder tyres? I watch F1 since the 80s and I don’t remember it.

      2. @roger-ayles Sounds ok on paper, but I think Max’s point as per another topic here yesterday with quotes from Max, is that more conservative tires are just going to see Mercedes run away with each race. The excitement that has come from the last two races at Silverstone has come from Mercedes eating their tires. When they aren’t doing that they are dominant and leaving others (besides Max) behind. This is why Max has predicted that his win yesterday is not going to be easily repeated with conservative tires.

        So when Mercedes isn’t eating it’s tires, and the tires, whatever their designation of soft, medium, or hard are relatively stable for the drivers, meaning they can ‘push,’ it remains that the biggest harm to close racing is the dirty air effect from cars overly dependent on clean air. After all, harder tires that drivers can push don’t equate to more wheel to wheel racing because the car in front is pushing on said harder tires, not just the guy trying to close the gap and make a pass.

        1. @robbie If Mercedes have done a better job than the rest & that leads to them dominating then it should be upto the others to catch up. Mercedes shouldn’t be artificially held back in any way & selecting tire compounds or altering tire pressures purely aiming to slow down Mercedes would be artificial & totally unfair. It’s essentially a form of success penalty.

          Harder tires do not automatically lead to more wheel to wheel racing I accept that, But they do stand a higher chance of producing that as the softer Pirelli tires just tend to overheat/fall apart after a few corners which immediately eliminates any opportunity for competitive wheel to wheel racing. Thats a big part of what drivers used to complain about before, Tires not letting them push to try & overtake a car ahead on top of it been no fun cruising around at 70% all day managing them as much as they used to need to a few years back.

          @F1Recorder There are many examples from the 80s/90s of harder tires allowing drivers to push harder resulting in long fought battles over position with some good wheel to racing & overtaking.

          I mentioned yesterday that I watched the 1993 British Gp last week. 2 cars (Senna, Prost & Schumacher) all pushing each other hard on tires that allowed them to push & didn’t fall to bits in a few laps & the result was a fantastic & memorable fight for position over a dozen laps with some proper overtaking at the end.
          And last night I watched the 1992 & then 1993 German Gp’s & likewise the better tires that were allowing drivers to push & lean on them produced some fantastic racing over many laps.

          The problem with the comedy cheese tires is that you have drivers driving slower managing them, Drivers unable to push hard or race hard because of how quickly the overheat/fall apart & the ‘racing’ we do see is far less competitive as drivers on tires falling off the cliff can’t fight.
          Look at the Max move on Bottas yesterday. It was dull because it was inevitable, There was no tension & it was too easy because Bottas couldn’t defend or fight for it. Imagine if the tires were better & we got to see Max fighting for the lead over a few laps with the eventual overtake been genuinely exciting & hard fight for… Would have been far better & way more exciting than what we ended up with.

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            10th August 2020, 15:39

            @roger-ayles – We’ve got the tyres the teams voted for. Pirelli warned that due to the higher forces these cars produce, they needed to change the tyres but the teams (including Mercedes) said no. They all have 12 months experience using the exact tyres we have now so there is no excuse.

            The Red Bull didn’t chew through it’s tyres in a couple of laps so there’s nothing wrong with the tyres. It’s the design of some of the other cars that is the problem. As you said in the first line of your comment, if one team did a better job than the others, it’s up to the others to catch up.

          2. @roger-ayles By your response in your first paragraph you seem to think I am advocating for softer tires so that Mercedes is held back, and I am not. I don’t get to control what tires are selected for each race and I just accept whatever happens with their choice of tires. And in fact it seems that Max believes most of the tires coming up for the next races will be conservative. So no I am not advocating for softer tires to hold Mercedes back, nor does it seem F1 is going to do that for the sake of the show.

            I understand your issue with softer tires actually causing drivers to drive at 70%, but I don’t think that is what we are experiencing here. It seems the softs issues have only come up at Silverstone and a hot Silverstone at that. I think the softs have been fine at the other tracks and will be fine for the majority of the season.

            With your last paragraph though, and again, if the tires were harder VB would have likely kept Max behind him as he would have been able to push more, but that means push his dominant car more, and Max likely wouldn’t have stood a chance at anything better than third.

            Of course you are right that a harder fought battle would have been more exciting than seeing Max pass a helpless VB. And more of that is going to come when the cars are different in 2022. For now, the Mercs are just plain dominant on average, and it will likely only be the odd day when the Mercs are having problems managing their tires, that sees this anomaly of Max dominating the dominant Mercs. To me you are making it sound like Pirelli has been mandated to make ‘comedy cheese tires’ to hold Mercedes back, and I disagree with that. They made tires for 2020 that were no better except perhaps in their ability to handle the added loads this year, so they are using 2019 tires, not ones made to harm Mercedes. That they harmed Mercedes at Silverstone was not by Pirelli nor F1’s design, but rather was just a perfect storm of a dominant car, with likely more downforce than the rest, putting more force on the tires than the others, at a track that is known to be hard on tires not helped by the hot conditions. Last year the same tires did not cause these issues for Mercedes at Silverstone, nor for Mac who also experienced this two weekends ago, nor for anybody last year that I can recall.

          3. @petebaldwin The 2020 tires Pirelli wanted were by all accounts worse than what they had before, That is a failure on Pirelli’s part. They told teams the proposed 2020 tires would be better, They weren’t & it was both drivers & teams who felt this way. Pirelli initially claimed they would be better in hotter temperatures but they were just as bad in abu dhabi hence why teams voted against them.

            The tires should be designed around the needs of the cars, F1 should not have to change rules to fit the deficiencies of the tires as it repeatedly has had to the past number of years. This has never had to happen before in the history of F1.

            The issue going forward is if they start taking softer unsuitable tires purely to artificially try & cap Mercedes. That would be unfair & against the spirit of F1.

          4. @roger-ayles I have no sense that they are going to try and unsettle Mercedes via softer tire choices. Certainly Max isn’t expecting this judging by his comments that more conservative tires are ahead, and that will ensure the challenge against the dominant Mercedes remains big. And obviously this has caught Mercedes by surprise somewhat, and they have every opportunity to adapt. And I’m sure they will.

          5. @roger-ayles
            The tyres that Pirelli design and produce each year are suitable for the need of the cars the following year. They overloaded them this year because they were designed fro last year’s cars, which produced less downforce.
            The teams don’t really want a tyre that is more resistant to prolonged side-loads or extreme high temperatures. They want a tyre that produces more grip so they can go faster. They certainly weren’t thinking about what this year’s cars needed when they choses the 2019 tyres for this year.

            I can assure you that nothing is being done to intentionally stifle Mercedes. You can take your tinfoil hat off.
            Mercedes is usually the fastest car in no small part because they extract the most performance from the tyre – and when they come to a track with such high and prolonged loads as Silverstone on an unusually hot day, they are simply working the tyres too hard. That’s the way they designed their car. It usually works for them, this time it worked against them.

            You want an example of unfair treatment in terms of tyres? Try when the tread depth was reduced. Mercedes were (wait for it…) working the tyres too hard, overheating them and suffering blisters (sound familiar?), so Pirelli reduced tread depth mid-season and (surprise surprise) Mercedes are suddenly very happy with the tyres, but no one else can get them into the window anymore. Mercedes won the next 8 races in a row…
            Several teams asked for the previous spec thicker tyres to be re-introduced, but were rejected.

            Nothing here is against the spirit of F1 – least of all your biased defensiveness of Mercedes maintaining their (huge) overall performance advantage.

          6. S, except that, having first complained about it, Ferrari then tested the reduced tread gauge depth tyres with the normal tread depth tyres at Barcelona back to back and ended up publicly agreeing that reducing the tread gauge depth was in fact the correct decision.

            Ferrari admitted after that test that they were having horrendous problems with blistering on the thicker gauge tyres – there were photographs showing the tyres were blistered across the whole of the surface – so it seems that, having initially asked for it, those other teams then reversed direction when they realised that keeping the thicker gauge tyres would hurt them just as badly as Mercedes, if not even worse.

            As for the claim that “The tyres that Pirelli design and produce each year are suitable for the need of the cars the following year.”, the problem is that the data that the teams acquired from testing them in 2019 suggested Pirelli had failed on that front. They were meant to be more resistant to thermal degradation and harder wearing than the 2019 tyres, but the feedback from the drivers and teams was that they didn’t seem to have achieved either goal – it seemed most of the benefits came from the teams being allowed to use lower tyre pressures during those tests, and the inherent characteristics of the 2020 prototype tyres were basically the same as the 2019 spec tyres.

          7. @roger-ayles – Agree, it is up to the other teams to catch up. But they all have the same tires, so the opposite also applies, if the other use the tires better it is up to Merc to catch up.

    3. I was interested and disappointed when in an interview before this GP on sky sports, Bottas had said that tyre management for these F1 cars (not just Mercedes) begins on Lap 1 of every GP. Other than for small windows of time the entire GP these guys are not driving to their limits but managing tyres.
      F1 fans want to see drivers at the ragged edge, but the current tyres simply punish any driver who extracts laptime from them. Compare to Le Mans where often they don’t even change tyres when they refuel as the time loss isn’t significant enough.
      Why can’t they introduce that in F1?

      1. You will find that at Le Mans they are not at the limits of the car as the tires are made to last longer, therefore lees performance vs F1 higher performance but less life. Unfortunately that is the compromise, softer tires are faster, but don’t last as long.
        So F1 will be closer to the absolute limit, but for a shortened time period, Le Mans at the limit of the tire/car/driver ability for longer but further below the absolute limit due to lower tire performance.
        Hope that at least makes some sense.

    4. @ruliemaulana are you necessarily sure you want to set a precedent where the commercial rights holder can intervene and overrule the recommended technical advice of others in the name of “spicing up the show”? Would you be prepared to accept such intervention if went against your favourite drivers in the name of “the show” in the future?

  5. For sure – we ended up with a whole week of complaining about how the tires were going to be too soft, accusing Pirelli and then Liberty of screwing up.

    I’m all for complaining, but I hope that the taste of foot lingers.

  6. I thought Max’s remark was such a great part of the race. Really shows him to be the future WDC that he is. And it really shows that the driver matters in this engineer based formula. He is the one really feeling by the seat of his pants literally what is going on with the car. He could tell that he had his tires in a sweet spot as Brundle put it. Oh I don’t blame his team for warning him to not ruin his tires, for that is usually what happens. But as soon as Max made his ‘grandma’ remark I thought yeah go for it Max, you’ll solve the problem by getting into clean air, but by getting ahead of the Mercs, not by hanging back. Absolutely great stuff.

    1. Absolutley. The difference between Vertsappen and Bottas was clear to see here. Max controlled the sitaution from his end and overruled the team as he has a good feel for the car. Bottas on the other hand pitted when he was told and didnt question it – I get the feeling that the best drivers would know their tyres still had life in them and would communicate this with the team. Thats what lost him second place and will lose him a shot at the championship. He just isn’t quite operating on the same level as the best

  7. I found myself thinking this generation of cars are more demanding of tire performance than what has expected.

    That thinking reminded me of 18 years ago when qualifying sets of tires that could only run at max for two complete laps. Better make them work when needed because they would last.
    Later that day Gilles Villeneuve was dead from pushing too hard on shot tires while encountering a slowing car on his second of two hot laps. That was 1982.
    Until the past two weeks F1 hasn’t faced too many times where tires were so dangerous as at both British races. It scared me, I thought this is not the way Formula One should present itself. Is Pirelli Stock failing as fast as it appears it might.
    Remember the car doesn’t cause the tire problems, wink wink, it’s the tires fault right? It’s always the tires fault.
    F1 will lose a driver if the performance of Pirelli continues to fall apart when temps rise. Last weekends tire problems continued this weekend.
    Too bad yesterdays race was laced with more tire problems. Using the same tires and giving them new names didn’t end the danger but rather raised the bar far too high and everybody just got lucky.
    We could have been speaking dead drivers names on Monday. The tires were certainly the most dangerous thing we’ve seen in F1 in almost 20 years.
    Anybody know how to make a legit fan complaint to team owners, event organizers and the Pirelli Company?
    Seeing the stunning tire failures makes the issue first and foremost a big problem. There’s still hot weather ahead. Are we rolling the dice to race when the tires are likely to continue to show there short comings.
    Is Formula One that desperate??

    1. At first I thought maybe you were being sarcastic (with the wink, wink) but now I just think F1 might be a bit too exciting for you, mate.
      Sit back and enjoy a thrilling game of chess instead, perhaps.

      1. Did you know both Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are competitive level Chessman. Life offers many pleasures and I’m confident you are an expert on many of them. Pawn crowns King.

  8. Another example of why max isn’t smart he’s lucky he has a good team that gives him priority. The second he leaves red bull for another team he will end up like vettel. Max will get used to having preferential treatment over his teammates and then when he gets a good driver as a teammate in a team that treats them fairly his weaknesses will show

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      10th August 2020, 15:39

      Stuck record.

      1. Never feed the trolls

    2. GtisBetter (@)
      10th August 2020, 15:40

      This seems more personal than rational

    3. Another example of why max isn’t smart

      If your view of a smart driver is ‘driving like grandma’ and not attacking the cars ahead, then I’m glad that we have few ‘smart drivers’.
      And your hero might be one of the least smart drivers with his late braking overtaking maneuvres.

    4. @carlosmedrano We have already seen what Max with a good teammate on a team that treats them both fairly looks like. And Max prevailed as he built his abilities and talent and stopped handing his teammate positions and points, and then DR left.

      You are in for a pretty rough next 15 years or so of Max in F1.

      1. @robbie Hamilton fans will all disappear in 3-4 years. They are not here because of F1, and their hate will be gone with him.

    5. Poor mcfrusto, you’re really clutching at straws lately…..but please go on, there’s nothing more delightful than see someone acting like a 4 year old with cookie crumbs all over his clothes refusing to acknowledge he grabbed some out of the cookie jar,
      Your crying is literally giving me tears of laughter 😂😂😂

      1. Only thing missing today is F1oclown 😉

    6. @carlosmedrano there are lots of years to come to build on your frustration. Let it go and try to get a life ;)

      Btw, Albon showed they had the same car with the same performance. If only his qualification improved

  9. It didn’t make any difference to the result.

  10. Besides that radio message, the one during his short stint on Mediums was also interesting, when his engineer told him to not bother with their management and to floor it. Even Max wasn’t sure what to make of that: “So you are saying we should fully send it?”. It’s a bit depressing that F1 drivers are so surprised when the pit crew tells them to fully race but it was a welcome change nonetheless…

    1. @gechichan Lol fair comment and yeah it has been a bit depressing for too long now how much tire management is the overwhelming factor of the game. Way too much. But of course borne of aero cars and a single tire maker not making tires the drivers want and need. I expect things to be quite different when dirty air doesn’t ruin a driver’s tires starting in 2022 and tires on 18” rims should be able to be pushed.

      Or put another way, it is hard for me to imagine Brawn not mandating that Pirelli do away with their motif of trying to affect the whole feel of F1 through their terrible tires, and rather just make sensible tires. The whole idea of the wholesale and unprecedented changes to the cars is to invite closer racing. It would make absolutely no sense for Pirelli to still be making tires that limit the very thing, the very direction F1 and the teams want and need to go. Rather than rarely being told they can ‘send it’ I expect them to all be sending it much more often.

  11. The drivers have some information the pitwall does not have, but the engeneers have a lot of information that the drivers do not have.
    Drivers are limited in their knowledge of what’s going on during the race.
    If you oppose your engeneers call you may be the king, but often you will just be a dumb@$$.

    1. Tell that to Bottas and Vettel!
      You have to trust your engineer and the pitwall. Fot hose two that “trust” is gone by the wind..

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