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.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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2023 Dutch Grand Prix
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