Hannah Schmitz, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2019

Red Bull reward strategist for “brave” call to pit Verstappen

2019 F1 season

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Red Bull rewarded its chief race strategist Hannah Schmitz with a trip to the podium for her “brave” decision to pit Max Verstappen during the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Team principal Christian Horner said Verstappen “trusted and accepted” the team’s call to bring him into the pits during the first Safety Car period, even though it meant handing the lead to Lewis Hamilton.

“At that point it’s like a game of chess,” said Horner. “You know, as the leader, the following car will only do the opposite. So to give away track position is quite a brave thing to do. You have to be confident that we can make a pass on-track.”

However Verstappen had already passed Hamilton earlier in the race on similar tyres. “We’d done it once with Max before and we felt that with that tyre advantage here, if he only conceded one position, he could do it again.” When the race restarted Verstappen immediately passed Hamilton again and went on to win the race.

The call to pit Verstappen was made by the team’s senior strategy engineer Hannah Schmitz, who was rewarded for the call with a trip to the podium.

“Hannah has been with us in the strategy team for several years,” said Horner. “She took maternity leave last year and then returned to work after her maternity leave on a full-time basis.

“She has a significant commute to work, she drives for hours every day. But she has a commitment and that passion for her job and I think it’s great.

“She made the strategy call today and I felt it was right to reward her with going to get the trophy. And I think it’s a great fillip for working mums. She’s an important member of our team.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
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37 comments on “Red Bull reward strategist for “brave” call to pit Verstappen”

  1. I was surprised by that call, but it all made sense as soon as everybody regrouped behind the SC.

    Of course she needed Verstappen’s decisive attitude for that to work, and also Honda to be able to resist Mercedes in the straights. By the way, the loss of power after the FIA directive seemed to have affected Ferrari but also Mercedes.

    Yeah, I know, altitude, engine life, and so on, but Hamilton should have passed Gasly, and instead Gasly pulled a bit away at the end. They were sitting ducks every time a Honda PU was behind.

    You can call it “holiday mode” since the title is theirs, but you can also call it “holy **** mode”… without oil burning, tricky sensors or intercooler gimmicks, that Honda PU is on par.

    1. Besides the altitude apparently being an issue for Mercedes, Gasly is on his 7th engine. Hamilton’s engine (number 3!) is on it’s last legs. So Gasly and also Verstappen, could run their engines much harder

      Look at the difference it made when Red Bull decided to just run the engine to the pieces in an effort to win the Austrian GP. Verstappen was suddenly flying when they decided to crank the engine up to “eleven”.

  2. I made the same call! When will a team hire me. Ferrari could do with me, even if I don’t speak Italian I’m sure my ideas would be better.

    1. Maybe good ideas get lost in translation.

      But yeah send them your CV, they need help.

    2. At this point, anyone is better than the Ferrari strategists and management.

    3. Anyone but Inaki rueda.

      1. Yes, they should just hire anyone who applies, it’s an upgrade regardless!

  3. Smart move by RB, someone who sticks their neck out and succeeds should be recognized as such.

  4. Great team effort, great trust RB in their crew. Great reward for her, and a champagne shower!

  5. It is great to show the backline people and to show one of the many women in F1.
    I am sure the strategists are also reading our soplies as for instance i wrote months ago that a safetycar should be answered with new rubber whatsoever, because the rubber also changes chemically, even when not worn out, which means struggles. So pitting as the leader, and Mercedes betting on getting back in the right tyre temp, pretty much means a slower mercedes and as we saw, Ver just hammered by. Whether strategists read us out here or she came up with that plan at the right moment is a guess of course, but this stuff makes F1 so much fun for unimportant home strategists like me and a few other weirdos online. Anyway. Good stuff honouring Hannah Schmidt, it is important this stuff gets out there.

    1. Adam Blumenthal
      18th November 2019, 15:06

      This article is timely. Hopefully Liberty will try to get the teams to feature more women and people of color. Besides Lewis, I didn’t see a single minority face during the parc ferme celebrations yesterday.

      1. Hopefully Liberty will try to get the teams to feature more women and people of color.

        Um, no, please let’s not do this. If Liberty “gets” the teams to do so, they’re likely to resort to tokenism so as to collect easy PC PR.

        Let it occur organically within the teams, pretty much the way RBR did yesterday. They sent a person who played an important role in the win. That happened to be a woman, so Horner went on to add a bit of context around her circumstances, which was done just right, in my opinion.

        Politically, I’m sure Horner might have been tempted to send a Honda rep up there (given two Honda cars on the podium, and given Honda’s imminent decision on their F1 future), but instead chose to reward a team member.

      2. Only people of color besides Lewis Hamilton were Brazilians in the stands…

        I played ice hockey growing up in Minnesota, where any kids with skates and a stick could end up playing varsity. But a generation later it’s become a rich kids sport. The equipment for a goaltender now costs about $5,000 or 3,800 quid. Plus you’ve got to play 12 months out of the year, dishing out for league fees, more sticks, new equipment, and camps and specialized training.

        That’s what F1’s training ground–karting–has become, a rich kid’s sport. It’s interesting to recently start following the sport–as I am–after 25 years away from it. We have a banner group of rookies and near rookies in F1, from Max and Charles to this year’s crop of new Fab4, George, Lando, Alex and Tony. But you dig into the stories of those six, plus Ocon and now Latifi, and almost all 8 come from at least upper middle class homes, if not great wealth. Ocon is the sole exception, and his parents privations prove the rule: karting is a rich kid’s sport at the highest levels. Sure you can kart if you’re not rich, but you have almost zero chance of getting to the top.

        And since fewer people of color are rich, we see only the male and the pale on the F1 paddock–except for F1’s Tiger Woods, our Lewis Hamilton.

        A sport based on fossil fuels, populated by almost nothing but the sons of wealth and white privilege, doesn’t sound like big box office in 2030, if anyone cares.

  6. “At that point it’s like a game of chess,” said Horner. “You know, as the leader, the following car will only do the opposite. So to give away track position is quite a brave thing to do. You have to be confident that we can make a pass on-track.”

    I think it’s also worth calling out that it’s a sign of Max’s maturity and the trust the team have in his ability that they were willing to roll the dice with this. A year or two ago, it’d have been Ricciardo trusted to be that safe pair of hands to make up a lost place.

    A good thing about Red Bull is that in both their dominant period and their current off-peak period, they’ve been willing to make aggressive strategy calls, relying on their drivers and cars to exploit it, quite often to good effect. More power to Hannah (and her team) for being the ones to entertain us with good strategy, not too many other teams achieve this as well (here’s looking at you, Ferrari).

  7. Red Bull reward Hannah with trip to podium to virtue signal as she is a woman, had it been a bloke named Barry it wouldn’t have got a mention.

    1. Well they can’t talk about female drivers, team owners or chief engineers in F1, so it’s a fair gesture to point out that there are women in roles other than PR. Anyway, I heard that Barry was a real *******

    2. Maybe, but it was still a brave and correct call so it’s good that he/she gets the spotlight he/she deserves.

      1. Brave? A good decision but a simple decision that if they hadn’t had pitted Mercedes would have. Her job is to make these calls, and I can think of a lot of things that are brave, calling a strategy is not one of them.

        And if you want more women in F1 treat them equally. I don’t get fed a story about Vowles long journeys to work or his child caring abilities. She’s a strategist, treat her like all the other strategists.

        1. Do the laundry and the cooking, Ian. Put the kids to bed while you’re at it. And when you’re done sweeping and mopping the floors, we’ll talk about treating her like “all the other strategists.” Honking dinosaur…..

    3. You have already forgotten the celebration of Mercedes’ James Vowles in Hungary?

      1. And what was he celebrated for?

        1. For pitting Hamilton, leaving him so much behind Verstappen, but managing to eat up the lead and overtake with a few laps to go.

          1. Right, and she was up on the podium for the role she played in the strategy. She wasn’t there as a mum, or someone who has to juggle a family and drive long distances. It was as a part of the team. So why treat or talk about her differently? Or for that matter any women employed within the sport. Which was my point.

  8. Go Hannah. It’s a shame that thingy Croft couldn’t give her name on the world feed commentary when she accepted the trophy for the team. Poor form, never noticed him struggle with other names before.

  9. @Adam Blumenthal

    Why? You need the most capable people, no matter their race, colour,sex etc.

    Your comment is inherently racist/sexist by denying ‘non-coloured’ and men a chance of a fair opportunity because they are not YOUR preferred race/sex/colour.

    If you look around the paddocks you see al ethnicities and a lot of women (with different ethnicities). You just see what you want to see.

  10. Such a shame the Austrian team don’t know the words to their own anthem.
    The Anthem celebration is one of the greatest things about Ferrari winning.

    1. Well they’re all UK based. Maybe that’s your point?

    2. That’s entirely his point, and I wholeheartedly agree. The playing of the national anthem for a car made in MK by an overwhelmingly British based workforce is a mockery. I always rant when LH is on the top step and they play the German anthem – “THE CAR’S MADE IN BL**DY BRACKLEY!” I shout to myself. My wife, has a hard life.

  11. A good call you know Ferrari would never have made..

    1. I have never seen a team snatch defeat from the jaws of victory like those clowns in the red outfits.
      It’s almost pathological.

      1. @f1osaurus I can not remember a time when Ferrari were in the lead with newly changed tyres, and then decided to set their own bold strategy during a safety car period.

        1. @balue Either way, Ferrari made the exact same “magical” pit call for Leclerc. They would have done so for Vettel too, but apparently Vettel didn’t have any fresh tyres left anymore.

          It made 100% sense to make this stop. Mercedes also wanted to take it, but then told Hamilton to try and do the opposite of Verstappen. They were “desperate” with Red Bull clearly having the fastest car. So Mercedes had to gamble that way and hope the track position would last. Even they knew it was only a 1% chance that it would.

  12. A lot of cars made that same stop and the ones that didn’t take it had a reason not to.

    It actually made a lot more sense for Verstappen to take that stop than for Hamilton. Still, Mercedes called Hamilton in also for that same stop if Verstappen hadn’t taken it.

    Leclerc was called in and Vettel would have also been called in if he had had tyres available.

    But I guess good tokenizing to show women in F1 can make it big.

  13. All I could think was, why was Ham told to do the opposite of Max? Pitting was obviously the best decision, racing on the pitlane could have given Ham the lead. Rb strategy on SC was the right decision, the strategy before was dumb, very dumb, don’t forget that chief strategist.

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