The thirteenth stage of the season did not bring Red Bull Racing points: Max Verstappen retired, and Alex Albon finished only 15th. The results of the unsuccessful weekend were summed up by the team leader Christian Horner.
Question Christian, Max Verstappen was unable to finish because of an explosion on the rear right tire. He drove over some wreck?
Christian Horner: Apparently, yes. Max was in touch with his engineer when a rather loud bang was heard, and then the rear right tire simply collapsed. Since this happened completely unexpectedly, we believe that some debris may have been the cause.
This is a very annoying incident, because Max managed to pass Valtteri Bottas and kept an excellent pace. Without this puncture, he would definitely have finished second.
Q: Perhaps the strategy of Red Bull Racing would have been somewhat different if your second driver was driving fourth, and so Mercedes had no difficulty in answering Max’s early pit stop – Valtteri Bottas changed tires around Verstappen, and Lewis Hamilton was planning anyway stay on the track as long as possible.
Christian Horner: We understood that in that situation Mercedes would be able to respond to any of our actions, and even if we try to carry out the so-called “trimming”, they will call their second car into the pits as late as possible. It is impossible to defeat both Mercedes drivers with one car at once, you have to choose one of them and try to get ahead of him.
We expected to stay ahead of Lewis and expected that after his pit stop Valtteri Bottas on fresh tires will be fast enough. But his pace was insufficient, and in addition, Valtteri began to make many mistakes, which allowed Lewis to create a gap, with which he would remain the leader after the pit stop. At some point, Hamilton got into traffic, the gap began to decrease, but then the virtual safety car mode was announced – Lewis calmly made a pit stop and retained the lead.
Question: Did you know that Valtteri Bottas has a damaged car?
Christian Horner: Of course. As the race progresses, we hear other teams talking and what the TV commentators are saying! (laughs)
We knew that Valtteri was driving a damaged car and that Lewis had a tempo advantage in such a situation. Therefore, it was especially important for Max to create pressure for Bottas as soon as possible, force him to make a mistake and carry out an attack.
In the penultimate corner, Valtteri slightly hooked on a gravel trap, Max almost crashed into the back of his car, waited for a straight line and managed to win back the position due to DRS. At that time, everything was going very well for us.
Question In the last laps, Alexander Albon was driving fifth, but made a mistake and did not score points. What did you tell him?
Christian Horner: For Alex, the day was not easy. Throughout the race, he fought Charles Leclair and Daniel Riccardo, but at the time of the restart, fighting those on softer tires, he lost control of the car in the second chicane. Zero points is an annoying result of the weekend both for Alex himself and for our entire team. In the next two weeks, we will work with him to get better results in Turkey.
Question During the race, Max did not like something about the car. What have you done with her?
Christian Horner: Max did not like the eighth operating mode of the power plant.
Question: I would like more details …
Christian Horner: We needed to solve a couple of minor problems, these power plants are very sensitive, and racers sometimes feel that in a particular mode the motor is not running smoothly enough. Max was dissatisfied with the eighth mode, we will try to avoid this in the future.
Q: Are you looking forward to the Turkish Grand Prix? The stages in Italy were not very successful, especially for Max Verstappen – three retirements in three races.
Christian Horner: I do not know what Max was guilty of in front of Italy, but this season in this country he is clearly unlucky. Turkey has a great “old school” track, we won there in 2011 with Sebastian Vettel, implementing a strategy of four pit stops! It’s great that this season we have the opportunity to return to the great tracks on which we performed in the past.