Verstappen held a 24-second lead over Charles Leclerc of Ferrari in the final stages of the Red Bull Ring race, barely more time than a pit stop for fresh tyres would cost.
Nevertheless, the prospect of surrendering the lead if the pit stop faltered was a chance Red Bull was willing to take. They opted to pit their world champion for soft tyres, enabling him to seize the point for the quickest lap en route to the finish line.
The pit stop was flawlessly carried out, allowing Verstappen to maintain his lead and clinch the extra point.
Red Bull’s team manager, Christian Horner, acknowledged the peril of pitting with such narrow margins. However, he was confident in his team’s capability to pull it off flawlessly, making the risk feel manageable.
Reflecting on the late pit stop, Horner shared, “This is our first time here since Dietrich’s demise, which made today’s excellent team performance feel particularly meaningful.
“We chose to go for the fastest lap on the last lap, despite the inherent risk of a botched pit stop. Dietrich’s motto ‘no risk, no fun’ was in my thoughts.
“Considering our mechanics’ exceptional form, the risk seemed minimal in the end.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, clinching the 1st position, rejoicing upon arrival at Parc Ferme.
Photo by: Steven Tee / F1 Flow Images
Horner confessed that there had been a discussion among the pit crew about the best course of action, ultimately deciding the pit stop was a risk worth taking.
“We weighed up the risk against the reward,” he elaborated. “We initially considered cooling the tyres and avoiding the risk of a pit stop, where 400 things could go awry.
“But then Max clearly communicated that his tyres were done, and he was determined. That made us reevaluate our risk. Should we risk running on subpar tyres? Or is it less risky to pit and fit a set of softs?
“Ultimately, we decided, ‘Let’s take the risk.’ And he still had a three-second lead over Charles when he emerged from the pit lane.”
Sharing his perspective, Verstappen revealed he had no qualms about pitting as a strategy to earn an extra point.
When asked about the perceived risk, he responded, “For me, none. But I think the team was a tad more apprehensive.
“I saw the gap and I was like ‘we need to pit; I want the fastest lap.’
“On the surface, it may seem a significant risk. But when you’re in the car, it didn’t feel like a risk at all to me.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Verstappen’s late pit stop
What was the rationale behind Verstappen’s late pit stop at the Red Bull Ring race?
The decision to pit Verstappen late in the race was driven by the “No Risk, No Reward” philosophy of Red Bull Racing. Despite the tight margins and the potential risk of losing the lead, they opted to pit him for fresh soft tires to secure the fastest lap point.
How did Verstappen’s pit stop affect his position in the race?
The pit stop was executed flawlessly, allowing Verstappen to maintain his lead and ultimately win the race. He emerged from the pit lane still in the lead, securing the extra point for the fastest lap.
Were there any concerns about the pit stop considering the tight margins?
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner acknowledged the potential dangers of making a pit stop with such close margins. However, he had faith in his team’s ability to perform the pit stop effectively and believed the risk was manageable.
What factors were considered in the decision to pit Verstappen?
The pit crew debated the risk versus reward aspect of the pit stop. Factors such as the condition of Verstappen’s tires, the potential performance of a below-par set of tires, and the option to switch to fresh soft tires were taken into account. Ultimately, the team decided that taking the pit stop was worth the risk.
How did Verstappen view the pit stop decision?
Verstappen felt that stopping for the pit stop was the right call to secure the fastest lap and the extra point. He did not perceive it as a risk, but he acknowledged that the team may have been more nervous about the decision. For him, the gap he had and the opportunity to go for the fastest lap made the pit stop a logical choice.