“Smart” Verstappen used Bottas’s slipstream to beat him – Horner

2020 Russian Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner praised Max Verstappen’s “smart” tactics in qualifying after he used a slipstream from Valtteri Bottas to beat the Mercedes driver to second on the grid.

Verstappen split the two Mercedes drivers with his final lap in Q3 to claim second place on the grid alongside Lewis Hamilton. Horner said Verstappen positioned himself cleverly at the end of the session in order to take advantage of the slipstream from Bottas’s car.

“He was pretty smart,” said Horner. “He waited for Bottas to pass him on the end of his qualifying lap and then started his lap benefiting from a good tow from Valtteri.

“That gave him a tenth on the run down to turn one. And then obviously had to make it all stick for the rest of the lap.

“It was an unbelievable lap, really one of the best laps he’s driven this season, I would say.”

Bottas’s race engineer told him “Verstappen can thank you for the tow,” on his radio at the end of the session. “I believe you’re in the best position to start tomorrow,” he added to Bottas, who will line up third on the grid behind Verstappen.

Horner said Verstappen’s qualifying lap was the first time Red Bull had been able to demonstrate their potential this weekend.

“It’s felt very bitsy so far,” he said. “We’ve seen flashes of promise, but we haven’t managed to put that together because of traffic and red flags all kinds of incidents.

“But Max was more confident than anybody going into that qualifying session and he really delivered.”

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2020 Russian Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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22 comments on ““Smart” Verstappen used Bottas’s slipstream to beat him – Horner”

  1. I was shouting “What are you doing? Don’t give him a tow” once I saw Bottas not moving to the side to let Max pass. As soon as he overtook Verstappen on the run to the penultimate corner, I already thought about him giving Verstappen a tow. Smart from Verstappen, but unnecessary from Bottas. He gave the team’s main rival free laptime. 99 awareness…?

    1. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
      26th September 2020, 21:17

      @krichelle I agree, it was odd! Shapes us up for an intriguing race tomorrow though. Bottas will probably get a better slipstream from P3, however Verstappen and Ricciardo will also be ready to pounce. Just something I was thinking about with the previous Russian GP’s:
      2014 – Pole-sitter leading after the start
      2015 – Pole-sitter leading after the start
      2016 – Pole-sitter leading after the start
      2017 – Driver from P3 (Bottas himself) took the lead
      2018 – Pole-sitter leading after the start
      2019 – Driver from P3 took the lead.

      I remember before the race at Spa this year being equally hyped about the run out of Eau Rouge. However this time there will be no feathering the throttle to back up the pack – it will be fully flat and an exciting start indeed.

    2. I wonder how Leclerc avoided Vettel there with that 85 awareness…

  2. After 2 consecutive Max’s retirements, I just hope Max will not end up in a crash in the first corner in the race. We need a good race in Sochi!

  3. Max is always thinking. One step ahead of everyone else. Amazing in what was basically the 5th fastest car out there, although the difference between 2nd and 5th fastest is very small compared to the massive difference between the Mercedes and the 2nd fastest car.

    1. Max is so smart. His IQ is definitely over 160 – probably higher but they can’t calculate it beyond that level. He could’ve had an unparalleled career in physics, chemistry, mathematics or medicine and broken the all time record for Nobel Prizes. We are so blessed that he decided to pursue a career in F1 where we can appreciate both his incredible driving skills, where he is at least 0.5 seconds faster than his closest rival, and over a second faster than most, all while displaying his superior intelligence for all to see.

      He is most likely responsible for the gains Honda have made with their power unit in recent years – without him they would be floundering at the back like in their McLaren days. Whatever Redbull are paying him, they could triple it and it still wouldn’t be enough.

      Am I doing this right?

      1. You forgot to say he is better than Senna, Schumacher and Fangio combined
        He makes Lewis look like a fraud
        If he was in the Mercedes he would’ve won all titles from 2016 to now easy
        You always have to mention other great drivers being below him otherwise there’s no validity
        Don’t make the same mistake again

      2. @keithedin A lot of people don’t realise this but In his spare time MV designed the Falcon 9 rocket for Musk’s space program. That was in between his usual work with the poor and climbing Everest without oxygen or Sherpa’s.
        He is working on a cure for Covid 19 but word is he’s not satisfied with it curing just one decease. It will cure all deceases known to human kind, and some we haven’t discovered yet as well.
        The man is a saint I tell ya :)

        1. Blackscorpion thank you for your feedback. I’m new at this but I will be sure to raise my game for next time.

          @johnrkh and thank you for those additional facts. I was shamefully unaware of Max’s other works but will be sure to educate myself in due course.

    2. Please stop posting utter rubbish

      1. Dear John,
        It is utter fun
        I am from the Netherlands and I am a Max fan but I like it when utter worshipping is ridiculed.
        Some fans are turning their heroes into demi gods. It de humanizes quite normal people who just are lucky to be very good in what they do. Like kneeling for the Blind, the Blacks and the Bewildered… or..when they praise alll the fans as the best fans in the WORLD.. or.. thanking the Lord that they themselves stayed so humble that they never want to be the centre of attention. Anyway just normal human beings like you and him/her.
        Have a nice race in Sochi on 27/9/2020.

        1. While is Max is very good i would never worship him or ridicul. But i am a old man who love racing and Max can race!

    3. Too many joking comments in this section (which I like), but I’m normally a serious person, so I’ve gotta say I think red bull was the 2nd fastest car this qualifying, I think your problem is you consider albon’s performance standard, which makes you think verstappen is some kind of god.

      The thing is, no driver can drive beyond what a car is capable of, I’m ready to bet that 90% of drivers wouldn’t get within 2 tenths of verstappen’s performance, BUT albon is definitely subpar and is nowhere near the car’s level, THIS is why you say red bull is the 5th car.

      Verstappen had 5 tenths of margin on any non-mercedes car, that’s gotta be enough to take a random driver – perez example, and place the car in 3rd place, only behind mercedes, that’s the 2nd fastest car.

      1. Verstappen had an average gap of 0.375 sec to Ricciardo in 2017 which increased to 0.433 sec in 2018… 0.739 to Gasly and Albon in 2019. The gap Lewis had to Bottas was 0.285, 0.172 ,0.122 sec fro ’17 to ’19.

        I think no one would get within 0.2 sec on average…even doubt Lewis can.

        The gap to Albon we all accept and dismiss Albon as a rather poor driver…. however Albon was a better qualifier/racer than fe. Norris in F2 2018. Max is exceptional, being ahead of Bottas in a RBR is exceptional

  4. Max is Ayrton Senna level of talent. He is incredible, to split the Mercedes like that. If he doesn’t manage to get in front of Lewis at the start tomorrow, then he will have to fight hard to keep Bottas behind, though for sure he is capable of.

    1. There’s something more, I think. Albon is 1.1s behind. Let’s give Verstappen the talent factor of 0.5s over his teammate and the a good 0.2s from Bottas’ tow.
      There’s still 0.4s to explain. He’s on a new engine, I believe. Some Honda extra boost there, maybe? Honda guys learning better ways to live with a fixed engine mode for the race?

      1. Nope same engine.. just “repaired” the software troubles..

        1. erikje, it is not the same engine – we know from scruitineering that Verstappen is using a new engine, MGU-K, MGU-H and turbocharger for this race, as are Gasly and Kvyat.

          In fact, the only Honda powered driver who is not using any components for this race is Albon – he has already reached the limit on some of his components (the turbocharger and his MGU-H), so it seems that Honda have decided not to give him new components given it would also attract grid penalties.

      2. Albon is terrible, here’s the thing explained! Verstappen is likely 2 tenths faster than any other driver except (we have no proof they are this fast) hamilton and leclerc, but not 1,1 seconds. Albon is imo driving 9 tenths slower than he’s expected to in that red bull, I’d definitely fire him and get a non-red bull driver, someone who can adapt fast.

  5. You realize, tomorrow Max will be giving slipstream to entire field as well right?

    And third race in a row, he’s qualified way too high, not sure if the Honda engine agrees with his eagerness.

  6. You can’t show performance you don’t have. Honda should’ve qualify behind pink Merc & Renault.

  7. VB missing Q Mode now just a little.

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