Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Sochi Autodrom, 2021

Verstappen made “great call” on tyres to claim second place – Horner

2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner praised Max Verstappen’s decision to pit for intermediate tyres which helped him take second place.

Verstappen was running seventh when rain began to fall at the end of the race. He came in for intermediates on lap 48 after running wide at turn seven as the conditions began to worsen.

“I think we should box, we’re losing time,” Verstappen told his team on the radio. “People are going off,” he added.

While some teams made the call on changing tyres for their drivers, Horner said Red Bull left it up to Verstappen.

“I think when they cross over the call is always with the driver,” he said. “They can feel the level of grip for what they can cope with. They can see more, when the weather is on top of us.”

“That is obviously how we operate, that cross-over is down to the driver to call,” he added. “And I think that Max made a great call there.”

Horner said the weather data available to the teams on the pit wall was ambiguous about whether the rain would continue. “It was saying that the rain was around. It’s not telling you how much, whether it’s going to stop or start or keep going. So it was very tricky to read.”

The ambiguity in the data, he said, made the drivers’ input essentially. “Obviously the drivers have more vision of that, out on circuit. You can see it was coming for a few laps and then it was either going to pass and dry or intensify and so it was a little bit of a gamble.”

While Verstappen profited from the late shower team mate Sergio Perez fell from third to ninth. Lando Norris, who led much of the race, finished seventh after staying out too long on slicks.

“You’ve got to feel sorry for Norris, within a couple of laps of getting to the end there,” said Horner. “I think Checo [pitted] prior to him.

“But obviously he felt that there was a chance, he drove a great race today and got back up into into third and should have been on the podium.”

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2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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25 comments on “Verstappen made “great call” on tyres to claim second place – Horner”

  1. What happened there? Wasn’t Verstappen 6th and Sainz and Ricciardo pitted ahead of him?

    1. I guess. We really need a detailed 20-25 min analysis of what happened up and down the pit lane in those last 4 laps.

      Very difficult to follow as all attention was simply on Lewis vs Lando

    2. @freelittlebirds He passed them before the stop as they both slid off the track

      1. @balue This video from @miltosgreekfan shows the onboards from Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, Alonso.

        Verstappen is on top left (took me a while to figure out). Verstappen is leading Leclerc but he’s behind Ricciardo and Sainz.

        Here’s the sequence of events:
        – Verstappen overtakes Ricciardo as they both go wide @0:20.
        – Leclerc overtakes Ricciardo @0:32
        – Sainz goes wide @0:55 and Verstappen and Leclerc overtake him
        – Verstappen pits @1:30
        – Leclerc catches Alonso and Perez @ 2:00
        – Alonso overtakes Perez on track @ 2:55
        – Perez overtake Alonso @ 4:00 :-)
        – Leclerc overtakes Alonso @4:10
        – Leclerc goes wide @4:25 – Alonso claims the position
        – Perez goes wide loses position to Alonso and Leclerc @4:55
        – Max catches up with Perez @5:10
        – Max passes Perez and Leclerc @ 5:20
        – Alonso pits @ 5:20
        – Perez pits @5:20 crashes into wall
        – Leclerc struggles massively pits 3 minutes later.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K24XUQ_h8VM

        1. That is a great video, very useful to follow the last laps.

          1. Yeah, so much action there.

            Leclerc was right behind Max, then Max pits and a few minutes later, Max overtakes him.

            What on earth were the other teams thinking to keep Alonso, Perez, and Leclerc out? :-)

            Lando and Lewis should also have been diving into the pits…

        2. @freelittlebirds Thanks for the link. Useful as following who was in which positions over the last laps was difficult because of the lead battle focus, as Sumedh points out.

          1. @jerejj I can’t take credit – @miltosgreekfan created the video for us and it was really helpful. S’euxaristo (thank you) Milto!

  2. Did anyone work out Max’s call about the red flag?

    1. He didn’t want the race red flagged because of the rain (as he was well into the points).

  3. It’s always easy to make a call to change for tyres when you already ruined your tyres to the point that Alonso in a midfield car is overtaking you.

    But yeah he was lucky the weather actually got worse. How much luck does the guy need to win a WDC?

    1. @f1osaurus Gotta give it to HAM, running into the wall in the pits in quali and losing multiple spots at the start after qualifying P4 shows he is the real deal this season. 10th time he fights for the title and it shows

      1. @paeschli True, breaking his front wing in Q3 was bad. But at least he doesn’t mess up in most Q3’s like Verstappen does.

        For turn 1, indeed Hamilton made sure he got through safely and ultimately won the race. Brilliant weighing of risk and reward. As opposed to the way Verstappen dealt with it in Shakir when he simply went on the outside of the corner 3 cars alongside and then complained they all crashed and he ended his race.

    2. Well,… Max did say in the interviews he was lucky. So that was the first time he was lucky this season. In comparison with the luck sir lewis hamilton had this season, max may receive some more luck I think

      Reply moderated
    3. Yeah, its almost as lucky as getting a safety car after going off in to the gravel.

      Reply moderated
    4. more than he’s had this year, that’s for sure. he’d be clear of Hamilton by about 40 points right now if it weren’t for Baku, and other incidents that were out of his control.

  4. Orange army outburst in 3…2…1…

    1. Doh. Was meant as reply above

  5. Another great drive by Max. A little fortuitous but so were several drivers, Lewis included. Lewis is going to have his work cut out to win this WDC. He hasn’t had a great year but is still neck and neck with VER so that bodes well.
    Solid stuff from Max yesterday and you create your own luck in this game!

    1. I thought at first the Horner quote was just PR speak. But someone made a youtube vid with all the radio exchanges. He actually did nail the decision. So your last quote seems fitting

  6. Thank you very much @freelittlebirds. Also, you nailed the comment with the Greek language. Do you have any greek origin or previous knowledge to the Greek language?

    1. @miltosgreekfan my family is Greek – I’ve lived abroad most of my life except for elementary school when we lived in Holargos. Greek is my mother tongue but I speak it less frequently nowadays as I live in the US and my wife is Japanese :-) How about you? What part of Greece are you from?

      1. @freelittlebirds You seem to have a really exciting life, having lived in totally different places around the world!
        I live in Athens, in Peristeri more specifically.

        1. @miltosgreekfan It’s a good quiet family life close to the area where Captain Winters (from Band of Brothers) came from in Pennsylvania. My son plays soccer, my daughter plays tennis so I drive more than F1 drivers. The excitement comes on Sundays from F1 and MotoGP:-)

          I always envy anyone living in Greece :-)

          1. @freelittlebirds Ha, you are definitely beating every F1 driver’s mileage if you need to drive the kids to their activities.

            Are you into Indycar? I’m not sure if any race is close to your location.

            Life in Greece can be indeed good, especially if you are close to nature(island/mountains).

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