Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024

How Red Bull overruled Verstappen to avoid race-losing tyre choice error

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by

Max Verstappen nearly blew his shot at winning the Canadian Grand Prix as Red Bull faced a high-pressure pit stop decision when the Safety Car was deployed.

At this crucial juncture in the race, Lando Norris lost his chance to win by waiting a lap before coming in. Verstappen did pit, but originally told his team to fit slick tyres, a decision which would have been a costly error as rain was about to fall.

His race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase made a last-second call to overrule Verstappen’s tyre choice and fit intermediates instead. That proved a race-winning move, as almost every other driver at that point chose the same tyres, and they proved the correct choice for the rain which their radars told them was about to arrive.

Verstappen’s radio messages reveal more about his race, including how Red Bull lobbied the race director to activate DRS so he could attack Russell, and how the team warned him their other car was dropping debris on the track:

Max Verstappen’s 2024 Canadian Grand Prix radio messages

Jump to:

“Just survival for the moment”
“I need DRS”
“Slicks”
“That’s Miami back”
“We’re expecting Lando to pit ahead of you”
“Debris at turn 10”
“Would you sacrifice some track position for a new set?”
“Check my tyres, I ran over debris”
“It was actually a motor race”

“Just survival for the moment”

Start, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024
Conditions were treacherous in the opening laps

The race began with a standing start on a wet track. Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase advised him to expect a little more rain, after which the track would start to dry out. Lambiase stayed quite for much of the opening laps while the conditions were especially demanding:

Lap: 1/70 VER: 1’44.993
Lambiase So just under three minutes, Max. And DRS has been disabled.
Lambiase Max, we’ve got a circuit update from the Safety Car. We have some standing water at the apex of turn two, but the remainder of the track is simply wet. No puddles.
Lambiase Okay, Max, so intel on the rain intensity: You may notice that it picks up, in intensity, but we expect that could only last around a minute or two before it reduces again.
Lambiase Okay, so just under one minute.
Lambiase You’re free to push on the throttle, Max, to turn 13 as you need to. For tyre prep.
Lambiase So just to confirm: four burnouts and the extra ramp.
Lambiase Last car approaching, back of the grid.
Lambiase Car behind 1.3, Max. And it’s Norris behind.
Lap: 2/70 VER: 1’37.672
Lambiase Mode ‘6’, Max.
Lambiase Okay, this is that patch of rain that we were discussing about, Max. Should last a maximum of five minutes.
Lap: 3/70 VER: 1’36.443
Verstappen Russell skips the final chicane
Err, George cut the track.
Lambiase Yep. Copy.
Lambiase So we just need to get through these next couple of laps, Max. Just survival for the moment.
Lap: 5/70 VER: 1’33.859
Lambiase Strong first sector, that.
Lap: 7/70 VER: 1’31.258
Lambiase Gap behind: six seconds.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“I need DRS”

George Russell, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024
Red Bull urged race control to activate DRS so Verstappen could attack Russell

As the track conditions improved, Verstappen closed on race leader George Russell and began applying pressure to him. He urged the team to tell race control to allow drivers to use DRS and Lambiase told him they were lobbying for it. The team’s impatience was clear in Lambiase’s reply:

Lap: 8/70 VER: 1’30.766
Verstappen It’s just hard to follow, but pace is good.
Lambiase Copy that, Max. Hold it there.
Lap: 11/70 VER: 1’29.700
Lambiase Max, weather update – heads up: Expecting a short rain cell, duration five minutes, in around 15 laps. Lando behind now in clear air. Starting to close.
Lap: 12/70 VER: 1’28.991
Lambiase Engine ‘7’, position ‘2’. That’s a bit more performance.
Lap: 13/70 VER: 1’28.532
Verstappen I need DRS soon.
Lambiase Understood.
Verstappen It’s about dry on the straights, now.
Lambiase Understood. Keep your tyres cool.
Lap: 15/70 VER: 1’28.637
Verstappen We need DRS…
Lambiase Yes, we are trying, Max. There seems to be some delay for some reason.

By the time Verstappen got his wish and DRS was enabled he had run wide and lost ground to Russell. Nor Lando Norris was filling his mirrors and soon used DRS to pass the Red Bull.

But when Norris attacked Russell, the Mercedes driver went off at the final chicane, and Verstappen pounced to retake second place.

Lap: 17/70 VER: 1’29.256
Lambiase Gap behind: 0.8.
Lap: 18/70 VER: 1’26.436
Lambiase Okay DRS is enabled. I’ll leave you to work on that one.
Lambiase So Lando on DRS: 0.5.
Lambiase Gap: 0.6.
Lap: 19/70 VER: 1’26.001
Lambiase 0.5.
Lambiase 0.6.
Lap: 20/70 VER: 1’26.265
Lambiase 0.4.
Lambiase 0.4. Norris overtakes along the back straight

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Safety Car, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024
Pitting for slicks during the first Safety Car period would have cost Verstappen the race

“Slicks”

By now substantial parts of the track were dry but the first two corners remained wet, as Verstappen and other drivers reported. However with the intermediate tyres he had used since the start of the race beginning to wear down, he knew he would need to change tyres soon:

Lap: 22/70 VER: 1’26.590
Lambiase Thoughts on conditions, Max?
Verstappen Still wet.
Lambiase Understood.
Lap: 24/70 VER: 1’27.034
Verstappen Just a heads up – if it suddenly starts raining heavily, we can’t stay out on these tyres.
Lambiase Understood. Thank you.

Verstappen was in two minds about which tyre to choose for his next pit stop. He was heading up the straight towards the pit lane entrance when the Safety Car was deployed in reaction to Logan Sargeant’s crash, and the team needed to decide quickly what to go.

Ahead, McLaren chose not to bring Norris in immediately. Red Bull did bring Verstappen in. However he initially called for slick tyres, and as his car neared the pit entrance his team hurriedly considered the weather data again.

As Verstappen reached the pit lane entrance, and the point at which the mechanic had to collect his tyres could be delayed no longer, the team made a crucial call to overrule him and fit intermediates instead:

Lap: 25/70 VER: 1’53.896
Lambiase Strat ’13’ when you can, Max. Not urgent.
Lambiase Verstappen runs off onto grass at turn three
Thoughts on conditions, Max?
Verstappen It’s hard to say. Quite dry except like that sector there, with the trees.
Lambiase Okay. Front wing update?
Verstappen Interrupting
The rest is dry.
Lambiase Front wing update for the same tyre?
Verstappen Same.
Lambiase Understood.
Lambiase Safety Car deployed.
Verstappen Er, slicks.
Lambiase There’s rain coming in four minutes, Max. Medium intensity…
Verstappen Oh fuck, really?
Lambiase Yeah.
Verstappen Okay.
Lambiase Norris passes the pit lane entrance, Verstappen approaches it
We can put a new set on, though, but it’s not for another five minutes… but crawling around under a Safety Car… let’s box, Max! Box! Box! Inter.

While Verstappen wasn’t aware of the coming rain, George Russell immediately behind him was, and Mercedes didn’t hesitate as they brought him in for another set of intermediates:

Lap: 22/70 RUS: 1’27.579
Dudley How far is it to dry?
Russell [Apart from] one and two, it’s dry. But if it’s going to rain, better boxing for wets when the rain comes.
Dudley Yeah. Copy that George, understand but do not wish to fit a new inter on this dry track.
Lap: 23/70 RUS: 1’26.894
Russell No, of course.
Dudley So 48 laps to go.
Lap: 25/70 RUS: 1’52.822
Dudley Yellow, yellow. Sargeant ahead.
Dudley So Safety Car, Safety Car. Box, box.
Russell Number on the dash?
Dudley So box, box? Same tyre. Just let me know if you need any flap adjust
Russell Negative.
Dudley Copy.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“That’s Miami back”

As Norris lost time behind the Safety Car, Verstappen gained enough to take over the lead when the McLaren driver pitted. This was especially satisfying for Red Bull as they lost the lead of the Miami Grand Prix to Norris under similar circumstances, though as Norris pointed out afterwards McLaren had the opportunity to pit but didn’t take it.

Lap: 26/70 VER: 1’49.849
Lambiase Verstappen leaves pit box
Strat ’13’. Russell on your tail.
Lambiase Verstappen rejoins
Okay, so dash positive, Max. Now, back out the pace. Look after these inters. Keep on the wet. We are expecting more rain in three or four minutes.
Verstappen Did Norris box?
Lambiase No, Norris has yet to pit. Lando is behind the Safety Car at the moment and he’s approaching turn ten. So just stay positive. Just target plus one, Max. But look after these tyres.
Lambiase Norris pits
We think it will be very close with Lando, Max.
Lap: 27/70 VER: 2’10.108
Lambiase Verstappen takes the lead and catches the Safety Car
Strat ‘4’. Okay, so running order: Obviously yourself, George, Lando and Oscar. There you go – what goes around, comes around. That’s Miami back. So just same scenario, really, for all drivers, Max. Everyone has pitted for a fresh inter.
Verstappen Rain’s still incoming, yeah?
Lambiase Repeat, please? Oh, ‘rain’s still incoming’? Yeah.
Lambiase Display ’10, position ’12’.
Lap: 28/70 VER: 2’08.316
Lambiase So expecting the rain in the next couple of minutes, Max. We do have a recovery vehicle on the track at turn four.
Lambiase We can select mode ‘3’ for now, Max.
Lambiase So expecting that increased intensity rain in the next five minutes.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“We’re expecting Lando to pit ahead of you”

Lando Norris, Max Verstappen, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024
Verstappen overtook Norris at the pit lane exit

The only driver to risk slick tyres at the restart was Charles Leclerc, who after various problems had nothing to lose at this point, and found it was too soon to switch from intermediates:

Lap: 29/70 VER: 2’13.946
Lambiase Okay, Safety Car is in this lap. Max.
Lambiase So update: Leclerc in pit lane, he’s fitted the hard tyre. He’s currently stopped in the box. I’ll keep you posted. Anyway, Leclerc intention to fit a hard tyre. So Safety Car is in this lap.
Verstappen Yeah, just keep an eye on people with slicks.
Lambiase Yeah, so Leclerc is the only car on the hard tyre at the moment. Keep us updated with conditions.
Verstappen Rounding turns eight and nine
Yeah, it’s raining a little bit here now.
Lambiase Understood. So try to look after these tyres as best you can – at least initially. There’s quite a long crossover period as you’ve seen.
Verstappen Approaching hairpin
It’s definitely raining here.
Lambiase Okay. So it’ll just being recharge ‘off’ and the bias offset as necessary. The rain will increase, Max. Safety Car is in pit lane.

A dozen laps later, Pierre Gasly led the drivers in switching to slicks:

Lap: 41/70 VER: 1’24.159
Lambiase Okay, we’ve got Gasly onto a dry tyre. Hamilton pace: ‘23.8.
Lap: 42/70 VER: 1’24.079
Lambiase So Russell: ‘23.7. Gap: 2.4. What are your thoughts on conditions at the moment, Max?
Verstappen It’s not slick yet.
Lambiase Understood.
Verstappen Actually, from turns two to six.
Lambiase Understood.
Lap: 44/70 VER: 1’24.381
Lambiase Okay, Max, so Hamilton is in this lap.
Verstappen Keep an eye on him.
Verstappen Especially through turns two to six.
Lambiase Hamilton has pitted into traffic. So we’ll just monitor his progress, Max.

Now Verstappen finally got the slicks he called for much earlier – and the track was ready for them. But Norris stayed out two laps longer and came close to jumping ahead of Verstappen:

Verstappen overtakes Norris at the pit lane exit

Lap: 45/70 VER: 1’40.612
Lambiase Okay, so, box this lap, Max.
Lambiase So box, Max. It’ll be strat ’12’ in pit lane.
Lap: 46/70 VER: 1’30.823
Lambiase Verstappen leaves his pit box
Strat ‘7’. And slippery turn two, Max. Russell: hard tyre.
Lambiase So Norris has stayed out. He’s currently green-green.
Lambiase Norris has stayed out.
Lap: 47/70 VER: 1’22.905
Lambiase So Lando currently on our pit stop window.
Verstappen What’s the gap behind?
Lambiase It’s 4.5. We’re expecting Lando to pit ahead of you. Maybe take advantage of the warm up, Max.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“Debris at turn 10”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024
Verstappen closed to within six seconds of retiring Perez, who was losing parts

After the race Red Bull were fined €25,000 for telling Verstappen’s team mate, Sergio Perez, to drive his damaged car back to the pits. The team did not want him to stop as they did not want to risk causing a Safety Car period which could compromise Verstappen’s race.

However Perez’s car also dropped debris onto the track, which they warned Verstappen about. Perez was given a three-place grid drop for the next race for his role in the incident:

Lap: 48/70 VER: 1’20.470
Lambiase Verstappen overtakes Norris exiting the pit lane
So gap behind: just over three seconds.
Verstappen The ride is very, very bad. It’s like a locked suspension again.
Lambiase Understood.
Lap: 52/70 VER: 1’17.905
Lambiase Okay, so 5.5 behind to Lando.
Lambiase Engine ‘9’, position ‘3’.
Lap: 53/70 VER: 1’17.251
Lambiase Lando: ‘17.6.
Lambiase And Max that’s 18 laps, including this one.
Lambiase Ahead of Verstappen, his team mate is recovering to the pits with a broken rear wing after crashing
So a bit of debris around the track at turn 10, Max.

“Would you sacrifice some track position for a new set?”

The Safety Car appeared shortly afterwards anyway, as Carlos Sainz Jnr and Alexander Albon collided. Verstappen didn’t feel the need to take fresh tyres again, which would have cost him the lead.

Lap: 54/70 VER: 1’39.889
Lambiase Max we have double yellows, turns six-seven. Safety Car deployed, Max. Dash positive. Safety Car deployed, dash positive. What’s the condition of the tyres, Max?
Verstappen I mean they’re not bad. Yeah, they’re okay.
Lambiase Question is, I guess, would you sacrifice some track position for a new set and a different compound, if necessary?
Verstappen Err, I don’t know. I don’t think so at the moment.
Lambiase Okay, understood.
Verstappen I mean, how do they look to you? That’s also important.
Lambiase Strat ‘6’.
Lap: 55/70 VER: 2’10.789
Lambiase Okay, so both Mercedes have pitted for new tyres, Max. Hamilton had a free stop, Russell lost only to Piastri. Will be a short run to the end.
Lambiase Okay, Russell has fitted new mediums. Hamilton has moved onto the hard tyre.
Verstappen Any rain incoming, or not?
Lambiase Negative.
Lambiase So that last lap before the Safety Car, in terms of gains and losses to Lando, the only delta was turn 13 across the apex of that final chicane. But I understand your ride concerns. Lando quicker, turn one, but losing out in turn two. Overall lap time, neutral.

Over the final laps Red Bull informed Verstappen where he could find time compared to his pursuers, though they never looked likely to gain on him:

Lap: 60/70 VER: 1’17.472
Lambiase Gap: 1.8.
Verstappen Just let me know how much grip usage they do, exit of last chicane.
Lambiase Yes, understood, Max. Okay.
Lap: 61/70 VER: 1’16.625
Lambiase A ‘17.2, for Lando. 1.5.
Lambiase Four tenths in the final sector. So, braking turn ten. And apex 13.
Lambiase Gap now 2.1.
Lap: 62/70 VER: 1’16.318
Lambiase So Lando, exit 14: just half a car over the white line. Lando last lap was a ‘16.9. The deficit was still just braking later for turn ten, for Lando, but it’s small stuff, Max.
Lap: 63/70 VER: 1’15.983
Lambiase Mode ‘7’. It’s a good pace. Lando: ‘16.5.
Lambiase Gap: 2.4.
Lap: 64/70 VER: 1’15.830
Lambiase Seven racing laps, Max. You are the fastest car on track. Lando: ‘16.4.

“Check my tyres, I ran over debris”

Verstappen was briefly concerned when he ran over debris from Yuki Tsunoda’s spin at turn nine:

Lap: 67/70 VER: 1’15.770
Lambiase Four laps, Max. Gap: 3.1.
Verstappen Verstappen drives by the scene of Tsunoda’s turn nine spin
Check my tyres, I ran over debris here.
Lambiase Yeah, we believe that was just a polystyrene block, Max. All okay for the moment.

“It was actually a motor race”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024
“We made the right calls,” Verstappen told his team

Verstappen won what had been one of the livelier races of the season so far. But with Sergio Perez failing to score, his victory did not prevent other teams gaining on them in the constructors’ championship:

Chequered flag
Lambiase Verstappen takes the chequered flag
Great job, Max. What a race! Kept you on your toes.
Horner Well done, Max! That was quite a drive. Quite a drive. Got the calls right at the right time. Got onto the slicks at the right time. So well done!
Verstappen Yes! What a race, guys! Not easy, but we did it! Great job, everyone. We made the right calls. So congrats – really, really good. Oh, nice! I enjoyed that one!
Lambiase Yeah, well done, Max. It was good. It was actually a motor race.
Verstappen That was good fun, wasn’t it? Many different calls to make. So very good.
Horner Yeah, not bad for a kangaroo, eh?
Verstappen Yeah, exactly. If we could even out that a little bit more, then it’s going to be very lovely.
Lambiase And not too many constructors points lost either, Max. Even though Checo did retire in the end.
Verstappen Yeah. It’s a shame. But we’re flat out, so still a good result.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Become a RaceFans Supporter

RaceFans is run thanks in part to the generous support of its readers. By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the same in whichever currency you use) you can help cover the costs of creating, hosting and developing RaceFans today and in the future.

Become a RaceFans Supporter today and browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

2024 Canadian Grand Prix

Browse all 2024 Canadian Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

16 comments on “How Red Bull overruled Verstappen to avoid race-losing tyre choice error”

  1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    11th June 2024, 13:57

    Well that’s a shame.

  2. That’s why Red Bull is a top team and McLaren not yet quite. These strategic choices made the difference between victory and defeat. But it is incredible how much progress McLaren made over 12 months time, when they had occasional point finishes early 2023. Really impressive. I hope McLaren can stay at the top and fight for victories on a regular basis again.

    1. That is Why Lando lost in Sochi because the team didn’t over rule the driver ….

      Max was on 2 thoughts but Red Bull saw the rain coming (without the radar) and over ruled him as Max could see that.

      1. could NOT see that sorry for the typo!

  3. Lambiase’s communication skills are excellent. Direct and to the point, but still very informative – you can see how effective their relationship is and the level of mutual trust they have.

    Contrast this level of conviction in their choices versus say Ferrari, you can see why Red Bull are hard to beat even when cars are more even in overall performance.

    1. Lambiase’s communication skills are excellent. Direct and to the point, but still very informative – you can see how effective their relationship is and the level of mutual trust they have.

      They really do set the standard for this sort of thing. I’m quite impressed by Pierre Hamelin’s approach as well with the various drivers he’s worked with (and he had three of them last year).

      The occasional digs between Verstappen and Lambiase are amusing. I get the impression it comes up mostly when they’re bored because there’s no competition…

      I do think other teams are improving though. Look at how McLaren handled this race (the error under the first Safety Car notwithstanding, where to be fair there was a high time pressure involved) compared to Sochi 2021, for instance. Even Ferrari, who get a lot of stick, are improving – their problems in the race weren’t really anything to do with the race engineer’s input.

      1. An Sionnach
        11th June 2024, 23:28

        Thanks Keith, that was a great read. You’ve also answered my question as to who you think are the top race engineers. There’s probably room to improve for many of them. JP surely deserves some sort of award. I liked the bit in this exchange where Max looked for his opinion, too. I know Max can be demanding, so it’s nice to see he appreciates JP’s input. From dabbling with some sim racing and struggling not to crash when messing with the buttons for the new cars, the level of concentration for drivers to adapt to what their opponents are doing on a lap and gain time is incredible. After many laps in a hybrid computer car it’s much more fun to take out an F2004 and throw it over the kerbs, stamping on the accelerator on exit. Then, the 1986 Williams on full boost is fun to get to grips with and the 1979 Lotus is just a pleasure to drive.

  4. This title and the written text has little to do with the truth. Max merely made a suggestion to go to slicks when the safety car was deployed.

    Of course, a driver doesn’t have a weather radar and Lambiase informed Max that rain was coming. And then when Lambiase called Max in, Lambiase informed Max that they chose inters and Max accepted it.

    This is just how it should be, in a well run team, since only the pit wall knows the incoming weather. A driver can give input on the current state of the track, but he is useless when it comes to incoming rain. So the pit wall has to make those decisions.

  5. It was again a mighty team performance. Now just get rid of Checo and put Bottas in that seat. He knows how to play that role without the stupid mistakes.

    1. And was quite good in quali with a good car, unlike perez, who’s never been a qualifying ace, and with how close these cars are in 1 lap pace that costs a lot of positions and also compromises the race.

  6. Interesting choice of headline…

  7. Great driver, great car and great team.

    If this was Ferrari they would do their usual “what do you think about going plan D?” and let the driver, inside the car and without the proper information, make the decision.

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      11th June 2024, 22:03

      We’re checking

    2. Yes, or also they would say (happened before): “box for inters”, driver enters the pits “no, stay out!”

  8. Thanks for this transcript of the communication between Verstappen and Lambiase, it really gives a good insight in how they work together as a team.
    The only incorrect thing is the title, which suggests that Lambiase corrected an error choice for tyres by Max. This was clearly not the case. Max suggested slicks, but was of course unaware of the rain coming in. When Lambiase told him, Max agreed to go for the inters. In fact just an excellent example of a good team decision process.

  9. I mean, how do they look to you? That’s also important.

    My favourite call. It’s just a little thing, and didn’t even get an audible reply but that he asks just speaks to his mindset.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.