In the final moments before the Hungarian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen – who went on to win the race – made what turned out to be a very important decision for the Red Bull team.
Max Verstappen has revealed that he made a last-minute decision to start on the Soft tyre for the Hungarian Grand Prix after originally planning to use the Hard, a compound that proved challenging for the likes of Ferrari.
The Dutchman went from the Soft to two stints on the Medium compound in the race, and was able to work his way from P10 on the grid to claim victory ahead of the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
Despite starting from P2 and P3, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc both fell backwards due to problems with pit-stops and tyre choices.
In Leclerc’s case, the team’s decision to fit the Hard compound for his second stint was particularly costly, with the tyre proving difficult to warm up.
Verstappen pleased to have made strategy switch
After the race, Verstappen admitted that his Red Bull was going to run the Hard tyre for the opening stint, but that he decided just before the race got underway that the Soft would be a better option.
“We were planning to start on the Hard tyre, but then I went to the grid on the Soft tyres, and I was already struggling for grip,” Verstappen told media, including RacingNews365.com.
“So I was like, ‘No way we’re going to start on the Hards’. So, it’s also credit to the team, because we of course planned the strategy around that, with the Hard tyre, and then we were like, ‘Okay, we’re switching it to a Soft’.
“We had a lot of confidence in just changing it around, then that’s what we did.”
Verstappen was relieved to have made the call after noticing the struggles faced by Ferrari with the Hard compound.
“I’m very happy that we did [change to the Soft], because the Hard tyre was really, really tough,” the World Champion explained.
“You could see that with Charles and Carlos, they were sliding around a lot. So, after we made up our minds with the Soft, that was never a consideration.”
With Red Bull seeming to make the right choices with strategy – as well as putting in smooth pit-stops – during the race, Verstappen acknowledges the importance of this in knowing that he can rely on them.
“It’s incredibly important if you want to fight for a championship,” he added.
“You can’t afford many mistakes. It’s of course very hard to always be on the good side, let’s say it like that.
“But I think we have a lot of good guys in the team and girls. Today, I think Hannah [Schmitz], our strategist, was insanely calm. She’s very good.”