Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2021

Red Bull not bothered by Hamilton’s “gamesmanship” tactics in qualifying

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said he wasn’t concerned by Lewis Hamilton’s driving at the end of qualifying.

The two Red Bull cars followed the Mercedes pair around the circuit at the end of Q3. Hamilton began his final lap so late that only one of the cars behind him was able to begin its lap before the session ended. That was Max Verstappen – Sergio Perez missed the cut.

While Hamilton was unable to improve with his final run, the time he set earlier in the session was good enough to beg pole position for tomorrow’s race.

The stewards have not announced an investigation into what happened in the final moments of qualifying. Horner told Sky he wsan’t bothered by what happened.

“It’s a bit of gamesmanship,” said Horner. “I mean, Lewis has got a hell of a lap in the bank. And then obviously he’s just backing things up, up, up and he doesn’t want to give, obviously, our cars a clean run.

“But it’s his right to do that, he’s got a track position. So we haven’t got a major issue. It’s all about tomorrow.”

However Horner believes Hamilton compromised his final run by focusing on slowing the pace of his out-lap rather than ensuring his tyres were in optimum condition to begin his flying lap.

“I think we’d probably focus more on the preparation of our tyre because you can see his lap time was nowhere near his qualifying time. But he was obviously more interested in what was going on behind. But that’s part of the game.”

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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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47 comments on “Red Bull not bothered by Hamilton’s “gamesmanship” tactics in qualifying”

    1. Sorry I’m hacking your comment to be on top.
      Max’s onboard and GPS positioning of the cars show that Hamilton was not any slower and everyone from Norris to Ocon to Bottas to Lewis were maintaining the same gap. Max was quite close as I guess he knew he was running out of time. About the shot where Lewis was checking Max in the mirror as he exited the pitlane, it seems like it was probably cause Max was not in the lane, but on the side almost as if wanting to overtake and pass him wherever he could.

      Unfortunate that Horner said that Lewis was playing games and doing tactics. It is sad that it is the way it is.

      1. Victor Harris
        31st July 2021, 20:30


  1. Good for Mr. Horner and if only Christian could always focus on his own team. :)

    1. Said Mr Horner who sent his two drivers out right up the backside of the guy they needed to beat by half a second. Gamesmanship that backfired a bit?

  2. I’m glad Christian acknowledged that strategy is part of the game. Everyone wants to win and will find every way that they can to use rules to their own advantage and other’s expense.

  3. Horner please stop crying for once. Even with the fastest car they are starting to look scared and desperate.
    Max had the car to be at least P2 today but he under delivered and that Checo needs to be fired like Kvyat.

    1. These comments sections really are scraping the barrel these days

  4. Was it Hamilton who did that or was his hand forced by Bottas. Hungary is one track you don’t want to be too close to the car ahead even by a few seconds.

    1. At the start of the final run there was a long cue of 9 cars (Vettel stayed in the pits), so it was always going to be a game of luck. This time Red Bull lost.

  5. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
    31st July 2021, 16:07

    Gamesmanship is not sportmanship, apparently. This is unworthy for Hamilton. Just beat your rivals by being faster. You don’t need this Lewis.

    1. Paolo (@paulsteward40)
      31st July 2021, 16:10

      We must have been watching a different qualifying. What channel on TV were you watching LOL

    2. He did beat his rivals by being faster. Fair game, and yes I am a Max fanboy.

    3. If the Red Bull boss himself declares it was OK, exactly who are you to say it is unworthy?

  6. Paolo (@paulsteward40)
    31st July 2021, 16:09

    Any sentence that begins with “Horner said……” we can all disregard. It inevitably carries no basis in fact, and invariably is designed to deflect criticism of him or RB. Completely lost any respect for him and that team after this past 2 weeks

    1. @paulsteward40

      Yeah, I don’t take anything Christian Horner says at face value.

      My interpretation is Horner realized that Max’s greatest liability is his temper. He must have concluded the last two weeks did more to hurt Verstappen’s attitude than Hamilton’s. So this weekend he’s trying to be the zen master and keep Verstappen positive and focused.

  7. Still interesting and questionable tactics.

    1. It tells a lot over the way Lewis fears the huls.
      The pressure is rising and looking at the tire difference we will get an interesting start.
      Can max pass two mercs before turn 1?
      If he stays on the inside he can always use the “Hamilton move “

      1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
        31st July 2021, 22:07

        If he does he’ll exonerate Hamilton entirely… thereby making his boss look foolish… He should do it!

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      1st August 2021, 11:51

      @jerejj Interesting or questionable how? In the sense that it’s only Hamilton who was judged for everybody having a slow out lap?

      Or that yet again we see Horner covering up for his own (team’s) mistakes by blaming other people?

      There was a long line of cars going out for that final run and Red Bull made the mistake to send their cars out last. It’s probably telling that Verstappen wasn’t last in the queue and instead Perez was.

  8. It was telegraphed from miles away, stupid by Redbull and Max to fall for this. Good tactics from Hamilton.

    Also thought Max towed both mercs in the first run, not sure. They definitely weren’t on it at Redbull..

  9. RB has to up their game. If you see that MB is faster then just get in front of them to have the upper hand. Slipstream has almost no effect on this circuit. Easy to say, I know that, but the game is on and no mistake can be made.

  10. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    31st July 2021, 16:19

    Fascinating to see people reply to this complaining about how Horner is whinging obviously didn’t read the article as he’s literally agreeing with all of you. Honestly what is your damage?

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      1st August 2021, 11:56

      @rocketpanda So what part of this is not whingeing?

      “It’s a bit of gamesmanship,” said Horner. “I mean, Lewis has got a hell of a lap in the bank. And then obviously he’s just backing things up, up, up and he doesn’t want to give, obviously, our cars a clean run”

      When in fact Hamilton was not doing anything out of the ordinary. There is a long queue of cars ahead of those last 3 cars and all are doing a slow out lap to keep their tyres cool. All cars are keeping a regular gap to the car in front of them.

      1. Not sure about you but I’ve never seen someone stop and start so much and drive so slowly even in the pitlane. Even the commentators were saying he’s wrecking his own lap as he’ll never have temperature by the time he starts his lap and what do you know, his lap was awful. He knew exactly what he was doing that’s blatantly obvious. He’s certainly allowed to do it, there’s no rule against it. But to use his own words ‘it’s an interesting tactic’.

        If things had happened the other way around don’t even try to pretend you wouldn’t be annoyed. Your bias is showing.

  11. Blaize Falconberger (@)
    31st July 2021, 16:21

    …and still Horner couldn’t resist having a dig at Hamilton in the post-quali interviews where he said Ham was ‘more interested in what was oging on behid him’ – yep, Chrissy, that’s why he got pole! Not bothered my fat back side…

    Whining is a habit of a lifetime for Horner. Even Max is sick of it.

    1. @timeslides Hamilton is too much under CH’s skin, he’s becoming easier and easier to wind up and with that RB lose focus.

      1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
        31st July 2021, 16:33

        That’s an excellent way of putting it, yes…

  12. @jpvalverde85 Or maybe your kind of allegations spurred Hamilton to test Red Bull? They’re welcome to overtake him rather than try to get a tow. Not Hamilton’s problem if they can’t calculate properly.

    1. You are not allowed to pass in the pit exit line. Touching the white line results in the same penalty Lewis received last race.
      Do your homework.

      1. He was still allowed to overtake him the whole lap which he didn’t

      2. Leave earlier. Overtake on the out-lap.

        1. David, take a deep look at LH out lap at the end of that Qualy, everytime a RB got close he pulled, then parked again, that was no tecnical or lap build/preparation relates, that was just an unsportive move to block another competitor to make a good lap. Imagine that LeClerc crashed deliveratedly at Monaco Qualy, that level of unsportmanship.

        2. @jpvalverde85 But like I said, if Red Bull are going to accuse him of deliberately taking out Verstappen at Silverstone, there will be consequences. Horner has not apologised for his remarks about ‘dirty driving’ and a ‘professional foul.’ I expect LH to use all means necessary now to beat RB and MV available within the rules, gloves off. They’re free to do the same.

  13. I am not at all sure RedBull weren’t trying to push Hamilton into ruining his preparation lap as it is unusual for them to come out together at the end of the queue. Indeed Verstappen has impatiently overtaken cars preparing for their timed laps in the past and ruined his own lap.

    Were the biters bitten?

    And will we now see a furious Verstappen at the start of the race doing what he does best?

    1. doing what he does best?

      Better starter for sure.

  14. Horner says it was ok but Adam, erikje and the rest of the anti-Hamilton brigade are ranting away. So funny.

  15. Gamesmanship, gamesmanship, gamesmanship. I don’t think Red Bull can sit around acting innocent of gamesmanship themselves, considering the lengths they’ve gone in the last couple of weeks to get under HAM’s and Mercedes’ skin.

    But I don’t begrudge either side for it, gamesmanship has been part of professional sport longer than many of us can remember.

    This is the title fight we’ve been waiting for years for. The most successful driver of all time, up against the next big thing who will likely obliterate every record his predecessor leaves behind. There was always a strong chance it could get ugly, but if it carries on with this level of intensity, I can guarantee it’ll be a season we’ll remember forever. Savour it while it lasts.

  16. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    31st July 2021, 17:01

    Albon is going to do a reenactment of Lewis’ pit lane drive.

  17. Hamilton is winning the fight however playing dirty or fair

    1. Or as he has always done in past; he shows people the same respect that they show him.

  18. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    31st July 2021, 18:43

    Well one of them will get to have the last laugh tomorrow.

    I just cannot believe RBR is that much slower.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      1st August 2021, 12:00

      @andyfromsandy Verstappen gambled on the last run being fastest and he got it wrong. Or he messed up his first run. Either way, he messed up in Q3 often already this season.

  19. Looked to me like max ruined his own lap by trying to intimidate Lewis and not concentrate on his own preparation.

  20. Everyone apart from Horner seems to think Hamilton wasn’t doing anything different. That includes Perez. So I guess we can chalk this down to yet another pointless and ill-founded Horner dig at Hamilton. Carry on like this and he’s going to lose Max’s first championship for him. Reminds me of Ron Dennis obsessing over Alonso in 2007.

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