Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2023

“Don’t f*** it up”: How Verstappen persuaded Red Bull to allow fastest lap bid

2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen overcame his Red Bull team’s objections and convinced them to give him a fresh set of tyres for the final lap of the Austrian Grand Prix.

That ensured he was able to set the fastest lap of the race and claim the bonus point which went with it.

Verstappen’s radio messages reveal why his team had misgivings about bringing him in for a pit stop with two laps to go. His lead over Charles Leclerc was 23.7 seconds on the lap before he came in, and with a pit stop taking almost 21s, a slip-up by his pit crew risked costing him victory.

However Verstappen’s set of medium compound tyres were fading, and rather than try to coax a better time out of them he was eager to receive a fresh set of soft tyres for the final lap in order to ensure no one would beat him to the fastest time.

He felt there was little risk in coming in to change tyres. “The team I think were a little bit more nervous.

Verstappen didn’t think his tyres had enough life left
“But I saw the gap and I was like ‘we have to pit, I want to go for the fastest lap when we have the opportunity’ and that’s what we did at the end.

“From the outside maybe it looks like a big risk but in the car for me it didn’t feel like a risk at all.”

The discussion over the fastest lap between the driver and his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase began with seven laps to go, when Verstappen was advised to ensure he had some life left in his tyres for the final laps. He immediately replied by pointing out they had the option of pitting for fresh tyres:

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Lap: 64/71 VER: 1’08.692
Lambiase Just make sure you have some tyres left for the end of the race. Might decide to use them.
Verstappen Well you could also do a pit stop.
Lambiase That perhaps it’s slightly more risk but either way, just look after the tyres – 21 seconds behind.
Lap: 66/71 VER: 1’08.601
Lambiase Just keep the braking positive turn one, turn three to avoid a split, Max.
Lap: 67/71 VER: 1’08.854
Lambiase Blues for Gasly.
Lap: 69/71 VER: 1’12.228
Lambiase Okay Max so if you start to cool the tyres, really start to cool the tyres now. If that means letting Gasly through, that’s also fine. Just a couple of laps off the pace.
Verstappen I prefer to box because this is silly to do that.
Lambiase We don’t feel the risk of boxing is worthwhile, Max.
Lambiase For reference, the fastest lap is just four-hundredths faster than your current fastest on the dash.
Verstappen And we are 24 seconds. Come on.
Verstappen These tyres are not going to do better. They’re just degging.
Lambiase Understood, thank you.

Verstappen’s eagerness to take a set of soft tyres sparked a discussion on the Red Bull pit wall involving Lambiase and the team’s sporting director Jonathan Wheatley. Team principal Christian Horner said they were concerned about the risk involved in making an unnecessary pit stop.

“There was a bit of a discussion of risk versus reward,” he said. “We thought, let’s cool the tyres down and do it the easier way of not taking the risk of a pit stop which 400 things can go wrong in.

“Then Max was making his opinion quite clear that the tyres were fucked. So then you start looking at your race, do we take the risk on a below-par set of tyres or is it actually less risk to take the pit stop and put on a set of softs?”

After weighing that up, Red Bull relented:

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Lap: 71/71 VER: 1’07.012
Lambiase Okay box and pit confirm then, Max. Box, pit confirm.

“In the end we said ‘look let’s take the risk’ and he still had three seconds margin over Charles when he came out of the pit lane,” Horner explained.

“Obviously it’s a team sport, but you have effectively a chain of commands to sign off on key strategic decisions. So you’ve just got to weigh up that risk versus reward. GP was up for it, Jonathan Wheatley was up for it, so it was like ‘okay, don’t fuck it up’.”

Verstappen dropped back further after his pit stop, allowing Leclerc to catch him a little more, making sure he had more clear air ahead of him during his bid for fastest lap. He got the job done easily, setting a time over a second quicker than anyone else, and that ensured he left Austria with the maximum possible haul of points.

Lambiase White line on entry and strat 12 in pit lane.
Lambiase Strat six, strat six
Lambiase Okay, so Leclerc gap 3.5, he’s at turn one behind you. Focus on topping up the battery, mode seven. No other cars attempting a fastest lap. So really, you just need to beat your current fastest on your dash. Gap behind 3.5. Just make sure you’ve got enough margin to Albon ahead. Gap still three. Mode one, strat one. Mode one, strat one. Gap 2.5 behind. Recharge on, then recharge off.
Lambiase And final lap.
Lambiase That I believe is the full sweep. Great job.
Horner Classy, Max. Very, very classy. Well done, mate.
Verstappen Yeah that was an amazing race, guys. Car was on fire. Really, really good. And great pit stops, too. Very good.
Lambiase Recharge on, fail 84 please mate. Recharge on, faiol eight four.
Lambiase You are back into the pit lane, please, Max. Back into the pit lane.

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2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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39 comments on ““Don’t f*** it up”: How Verstappen persuaded Red Bull to allow fastest lap bid”

  1. He always is pushing to new limits. And good for him doing so. Why should he just want to run circles on the track when there is an opportunity to add a bit of spice and use the gap he has to pit and set that FLAP.

    He might even be doing this exactly for the thrill of having at least some risk, although I suspect he really felt sure enough that with his skill behind the wheel, the potential of the car and how well running the teams pitstop crew have been it was a calculated risk without much downsides.

  2. It was a massive gamble, not really worth it for a single point. There are all sorts of things which could have gone wrong, both in the pit stop and in a push lap to get the point.

    That said, I’m glad they did it. It gave a little bit of jeopardy on the final lap, something worth watching. Without that, the result was decided already (post-race penalties notwithstanding). I won’t lie, I had everything crossed that something would go wrong and he’d drop to second place (or worse) through hubris, but even without that happening it definitely allowed the race to end on a higher point than it would otherwise.

    1. It is worth in psychology for Max to keep his edge. He needs to challenge himself since no else does.

    2. Also it’s very discomforting for the other teams to watch Red Bull taking risk just because they can.

  3. There’s literally nothing on the line for him… one win here or there means nothing… he can easily take a gamble and once in 20 races it’ll backfire but it’s inconsequantial.

    1. It’s nothing different from a videogame for him at his point. Maybe the videogame is even more difficult because there the machines are more leveled.

      1. Depends on the video game, f1 2023 is supposed to be easy if you play verstappen.

  4. I appreciate that Max is driving the best car, but he just doesn’t make any mistakes these days. That hot-headed young driver of a few seasons ago has been replaced with a facsimile of Michael Schumacher…. with similar results.

    1. As soon as he loses his advantage he’ll be back to how he was.

      1. That reminds me of Schumacher too actually…

    2. He’s definitely on top of his game, but the inner Verstappen came right back out when Pérez dared challenge him. Or whenever he meets Hamilton on track. The shenanigans are still there, it’s just that he’s often way ahead out on his own.

      1. He already did that on Saturday at turn 3. I thought Perez did very well to avoid collision there. I was very surprised considering that it was on Perez.

        1. I think he did that on Purpose as he didn’t like Perez pushing him onto the grass ala Nico Lewis 2016.

  5. And once again……..we have the tail wagging the Red Bull dog here……like the Vettel team orders Multi 21 stuff hahahaha

    1. I don’t there is a order for Max just 1 for Perez keep it clean and finish second or if Max has problems finish first.

  6. I still don’t like awarding a point for fastest lap as i still feel it’s an irrelevant stat that simply isn’t deserving of an extra point that could wind up been a deciding factor in the championship one year.

    It’s essentially usually whoever towards the front has a gap behind with 2-3 laps left that allows them to pit for fresh softs. Why should that give you a point?

    It’s not even something they often cover on the broadcast now or make a big deal over most weekends. This time it was because of Max putting from P1 but can anyone say who got it at other races without having to look it up?

    I just think one year were going to have a last race title decider thats going to be won not by the 2 title rivals fighting it out on track but by team mates or ‘B team’ cars going after fast lap which just isn’t going to be a fun or satisfying way for a last race title decider to end.

    1. Yes, I might get the canada one right but wouldn’t remember majority, so looks unimportant.

    2. The chance for that to happen is abysmal, you’d need a season like 2021 and even then something would have to go differently, let’s say hamilton and verstappen taking each other out late in the race in abu dhabi, so that one has fastest lap; once the 2nd driver of the opposite team beats said lap, there’s nothing to fight for for the 2nd driver of the other team, he can’t give the fastest lap to his team mate.

  7. Sergey Martyn
    3rd July 2023, 15:49

    I feel sad for Checo who was robbed of his well deserved and fair best lap. Any back maker with an empty tank on softs could do the same

    1. Same here. This fact seems to have been lost on just about everyone.

    2. It was a 2 point swing in Max’s favor. So that’s why he did, what he did. Checo wasn’t robbed. In that RB, he should have stayed within 20s of Max and this wouldn’t have been an issue.

    3. Pérez wasn’t robbed of anything. He’s not as good as Verstappen, and the sooner some people accept that he’s a second rate driver (and always has been), the better.

      1. @nvherman just a good driver but nothing exceptional… but I thought everyone already knew this.

  8. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
    3rd July 2023, 17:24

    I’d like to take the opportunity to highlight the fact that introducing a point for fastest lap has been a good decision. I was doubtful a while back but the point definitely needs to stay.

    Maybe some things need to be ironed out (sprint races for instance), but I’m ok with Liberty trying things and stick with what works fine.

  9. Imagine if something like what happened to Bottas in Monaco 2021 happened to him. I am surprised Red Bull took this call considering they only had 3 seconds to Leclerc after stopping.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      3rd July 2023, 18:07

      Agreed. Over 1 point as well. Which considering the championship positing is a fart in the wind. Even though it worked out, this was stupid. The history books won’t remember fastest lap points, they will remember wins.

      1. Not stupid. It is important the Max keeps challenging himself.

        1. Maybe allowing his teammate to have fastest lap instead of him is the hardest challenge for Max: an exercise in self-control.

      2. @rdotquestionmark not so strange as this was a 2 point score, and as AlexS said it’s to keep Max on his toes by challenging himself.

  10. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    3rd July 2023, 18:06

    He’s just trolling the grid at this point.

  11. do we take the risk on a below-par set of tyres or is it actually less risk to take the pit-stop

    Classic Horner backtrack. This isn’t Raikkonen 2005. He could easily have crawled 2 laps on such a short circuit if there really were any concerns. Clearly Max just got his way again, and on this occasion I’m glad. An issue at a Red Bull pit stop is rarer than rocking horse s—, so even the jeopardy is minimal.

    1. He could easily have crawled 2 laps on such a short circuit if there really were any concerns.

      He would have attempted fastest lap on the used tires anyway, and THAT would have been more dangerous.

      1. Exactly. So they are ‘controlling the beast’, instead of making him do the right thing: just not going for it.

    2. I remember a pit stop problem in austin 2022, which gave a minor win chance to hamilton, not sure it’s the last, but it’s fairly recent.

  12. Winners plan for success, not for failing. There was a high probability it could be done, thus you go and make it happen. Doesn’t matter if it is for +1 versus -7 (fast lap, or mishap and get second place).

  13. It’s really easy to see this as hubris or arrogance from Verstappen and Red Bull, and to start with I said that I don’t think it would be worth the risk, but looking back on it, it’s absolutely the right decision. It’s been a while since Max and RB have been under any real pressure, so forcing that on themselves keeps them sharp. Pit stop practice is all well and good, but doesn’t necessarily translate to real world experience, and their usual pit stops this season haven’t been under any real pressure, so this allows them to stay at their best.

    At the end of the day settling and being complacent with just winning isn’t the right mentality. Why settle for just winning when you can push yourselves to take everything you can get? That’s why they’re on top at the moment, and fully deserve it.

  14. Bah. If a football team is 3 up during the match, they don’t all go on defence either because of risk vs reward. You go for 4, 5 and 6. Winner’s mentality, good job Max.

  15. In pure terms of championship points it isn’t even such a gamble. Losing the lead loses 7 points. Going for the fastest lap point is worth it if Red Bull doesn’t botch the pit stop by more than 3 seconds more than 1/7 (14%) of the time, which they are certainly able to do with quite a margin.

    All of that, assuming that Verstappen’s tires are really cooked and that he doesn’t go for the fastest lap anyway. And disregarding the egg-on-your-face effect when it backfires.

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