In Sunday’s race at Spa-Francorchamps, Verstappen displayed an outstanding performance, leaving his competition far behind. He surpassed his teammate Sergio Perez by a significant margin of 22 seconds, while Charles Leclerc, the closest rival from Ferrari, trailed by 33 seconds.
The Dutchman was so dominant that he quickly teased his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase about taking an additional pitstop to set the fastest lap, just to provide his crew with “some additional pitstop practice.”
Although the comment may have been interpreted as complacency, team principal Horner promptly dismissed the suggestion of an additional pit stop, a strategy Verstappen employed previously at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Motorsport.com inquired about any worries regarding Verstappen’s casual radio messages, to which Horner responded that there were none, hence the decision to not make a pit stop.
“We were cautious not to become overly ambitious, considering our victory in the sprint race yesterday and our 1-2 finish today. We wanted to avoid any embarrassment or jeopardizing our achievements.”
“I don’t believe anyone will lose much sleep tonight over giving away a single point.”
Red Bull’s strategy of avoiding unnecessary risks was influenced by worries about tire wear. Verstappen’s aggressive use of the soft tires at the beginning of his stint made his engineer uneasy.
“We became slightly concerned about the tires as they appeared to be showing signs of wear and tear, and we wanted to avoid delving too deeply into the issue,” Horner clarified. “Therefore, our focus was simply on finishing the race.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images
Verstappen had started from sixth after incurring a grid penalty for taking a new gearbox. By lap 17 he overtook Perez for the lead, having passed the likes of Leclerc and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton earlier.
He then put his eighth consecutive win of the 2023 season, one shy of Sebastian Vettel’s all-time record, beyond doubt with a crushing middle stint on the medium tyres.
Horner commented that the race he drove today was remarkable. He did an excellent job to reach the second position and his performance truly excelled after the pit stop, particularly on the medium tyre where he demonstrated exceptional speed.
Checo’s lack of strong defense was clearly due to the noticeable speed gap between him and the other person. When it came to using the medium tire, Checo certainly didn’t feel as at ease as Max did.
“We must analyze the reasons behind his relatively challenging performance on the medium tire.”
Erwin Jaeggi contributed to the reporting of this information.