Horner explains “no-brainer” pit call which jumped Verstappen past Perez

2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner explained why they made a pit stop call which jumped Max Verstappen ahead of his team mate into the lead of the race.

Verstappen started the race from pole position but fell behind Sergio Perez who was the first of the two Red Bull drivers to pit for slick tyres after rain fell on the first lap.

Horner said that call had been down to Perez. “As the first car in the train, with the leader, it’s always very hard to make that call when it’s right on the edge,” he said Horner. “It was Sergio’s call that he wanted to pit and that paid dividends for him because he was the first one, certainly of the front-leading cars, to jump onto the inter.”

Verstappen quickly passed other drivers who pitted before him. “The way he cut through the traffic was quite sensational,” said Horner.

Verstappen arrived in second place behind Perez and soon reduced his team mate’s lead to less than three seconds. “Checo then had the target to pull a gap on the cars behind him,” Horner explained, “but Max’s pace as he came through the field was such that I think at one point he took seven seconds out of him in three laps, and was coming very fast.”

At that point, on the 12th lap of the race, Red Bull brought Verstappen in to put him on slick tyres. Perez came in the next time around, but as Verstappen had lapped quicker on his fresh tyres he gained the lead of the race from his team mate. Perez asked his team on the radio whether Verstappen had undercut him and was told he had.

Horner said the team decided to pit Verstappen before his team mate, despite the possibility it would cost Perez the lead of the race, because they were concerned other drivers who had already switched to slick tyres might get ahead of him.

“Alonso and, I think, Gasly behind him had pulled the trigger and pitted,” Horner explained. “And you could see from Albon suddenly the circuit was coming alive for the slicks.

“Had we pitted Checo first, they would have both undercut Max, so we’d have gone from a net one-two to a net one-four. So we pitted Max first with the risk being that he’d undercut Checo but we’d end up as a team as first and second. So it was a no-brainer.”

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Keith Collantine
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24 comments on “Horner explains “no-brainer” pit call which jumped Verstappen past Perez”

  1. Says Horner while is nose is getting longer than the difference between Max and Sergio in the championship. A move that confirm, once again and we didn’t have need of, that RB has only one car

    1. So where is the lie here?

      CH plainly acknowledges that they decided to undercut Checo with Max, which is exactly what happened.

      The first pitstop round (Checo one lap before Max) massively advantaged Checo who found himself about ten second ahead of Max after having trailed him during all the first stint.

      Teams tend to favour the driver ahead with the strategy but again CH is very plain about the reason why they decided to favour Max: he had a lot more pace than Checo. Not only this was clearly true, it also makes a lot of sense.

      CH may often be manipulative and prone to bullsh1t (more than an out-and-out liar, I’d say) but what he says here is clear as day.

      1. Well, they could have double stacked. Had the cars been the other way around there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell they’d called Perez in first….
        The gap was around three seconds so Verstappen would have lost a little bit if time, but would still be comfortably ahead of the pack.
        But why should they? They didn’t want to have their no. 1 and faster driver behind the slower driver (who is probably on his way out anyway) defending at all costs on a damp track. That is a nightmare szenario.

        1. Double stack in Zandvoort you know WHY they had to start with Inters instead of Wets to prevent teams double stacking when they drop the wets after the start, There was NO room for that so dangerous and that is why change that rule for this race…..

          So double stack was really dangerous.

      2. It seems that call to come in at the start of the race was actually Perez himself, so you can hardly give Red Bull the credit for that one.

        Off course Red Bull were going to give Max the undercut to avoid any chances of things getting messy once Max came up on Perez, since it was clear to everyone that the outcome would be Max ahead of Perez, either on strategy or on the road.

        But Horner acting as if they saw any risk of Max getting passed had he not stopped first? Sure, maybe if they saw a risk of him getting tangled with Perez, otherwise he would more likely than not have gotten back ahead before too soon anyway.

      3. Usually in lap 1 the leader never leave the position for boxing, are the drivers that has nothing to lose to go to box and try to change their race, also because the weather forecast was that the rain would stop in a few minutes. The leader in such unpredictable situation never box, like Hamilton in Hungary 2021 and is right to not box in my opinion, even the race is still long. The second stop was really clear that the track was ready for slick, maybe since 1-2 laps before Max pitted, that was just a move for avoid the Sergio-Max duel on track

    2. I firstly saw them boxing Perez when the rain started which led to a huge advantage for him. At the end of the rain they pitted Max earlier which benefitted Max. Seems pretty balanced to me and like a good strategy to manage both of your kids and handle them equally. Not much else to read into it (unless you want to).

  2. Horner man, you are amazing.
    I am not saying now that Perez is a match for Verstappen but Perez is told to save his tyres while on inters and then Verstappen can push at will cutting down the deficit. It becomes easier for Verstappen to see an undercut if that was really the case.
    Ever since Perez said he was going for the championship, he suddenly lost confidence in his car and his ability to drive at a reasonable pace.

  3. lol of course it was. Why risk let them solved it themselves on a slippery track?
    Because even if Max could breeze past Perez as he would likely do, it’s still easier and safer to just jump him on the pits and deal with the complaints later.

    1. notagrumpyfan
      27th August 2023, 20:18

      Your analysis is the ‘no brainer’ part.
      The other reasoning is just the politically correct answer. It is 100% correct, but I doubt they’d use it if the racing order were reversed.

  4. From the start of the season, RB and in particular Horner have been very clear in the media and the strategy calls that they don’t support Perez winning races. No wonder that he lost confidence this year.

    Add in its Max’s home race with a record equaling 9 wins on the line. RB were never letting Perez win.

    If I were Perez, I wouldn’t wait for them to fire me next season. I’d quit.

    1. And go where? At a midfield team that only gets top 10 finishes? At least at RB he has a big chance at podiums every race, and in rare cases maybe even a win. Realistically, Perez is not exactly a huge talent, he’s not young anymore and doesn’t have the mental strength to win a WDC.

      Why would he risk it all to chase a pipe dream? Second driver at the most dominating team this “era” is the best place he could ever achieve in F1.

  5. It’s hilarious that he expects anyone to believe such bull! Max had a big enough gap that he was in no danger of being passed. Even if he had, he’d have been past them quickly enough.

    They wanted to get Max past Sergio without risking them on track, so chose the order of our stops to accomplish this. We all know it. It’s a little unfair towards Perez, but it makes sense for the team when Max is the number one, clearly favoured driver, and when he’d probably have been fast enough to pass him anyway. It just makes the team look really bad when they try to deceive the public this way, especially when they do such a terrible job at it.

    1. There is no lie in his statement. He is honest about the reasons and everyone knows that.
      So why suggesting he lied?

      1. Because Horner lies all the time about how they don’t give one driver preferential treatment despite it being obvious that they do

  6. However we see this media spinning, Perez did stop first before, after the rain had started; and gained position over Verstappen. Later the reverse thing happened.

    1. Perez stopped first initially because it was too late to pit Max by the time the rain came down. It was the luck of the draw.

      Later, it was clearly engineered to put Max ahead without the risk of him having to overtake on track. That wasn’t luck, it was a team decision.

      I’m not saying it was wrong to do so, I’d probably have done the same in their shoes. However, I wouldn’t lie to the media about it, especially not with such an unbelievable lie. It was as bad as a Nac Mac Feegle lie.

  7. Yet more proof, as if any was needed, that RB favors their golden boy to the determent of their other driver. Of course their “fans” have a laundry list of excuses which they’ll be making heavy use of for this.

    1. Red Bulls priority right now is to break some more records with Max. To be fair, Max would have gotten by Perez with ease anyways. A smart pit for inters isn’t enough for Perez to outrace Max over an entire race distance. Red Bull just chose the route of least resistance to get Max the win. Perez has tried some dodgy defense in the past, and they just didn’t want to risk two drivers tangling on a wet circuit.

      1. And I agree it was the right call. It just makes them look very stupid to come out with such a bald-faced, unbelievable lie about it.

        1. But nothing Horner said was a lie.

    2. Well, it surely didn’t look that way after the first pit stop. It was hugely favouring Perez handing him the lead. If you subsequently notice as team that he is nowhere on pace after that what would you have done..?

  8. They obviously didn’t want Perez to interrupt Max’s race and don’t want to quite come out and say it, but it’s all fine for as far as I’m concerned. Perez gave them no option by being so far off Max’s pace.

  9. I was skeptical of his words (it’s Horner..). I thought he was trying to mask a team decision to simply put Verstappen in front without a chance of conflict. But I re-watched that part of the race including team messages to the drivers. Actually, when Perez came out of the pit Alonso came down to just 1.2s behind Perez (tire warm up). So, at least for this occasion, Horners words have merit since Verstappen was just under 3s behind Perez when he boxed.

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