Inspired by Red Bull’s strategic play, Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton after the restart to take victory in the Dutch GP. RBR team principal Christian Horner was surprised by the decision taken by Mercedes, who called George Russell into the pits to fit the soft tires – leaving Lewis Hamilton open on the track with the intermediate tires used.
– You have a home driver, leading in front of 150,000 people, and he decides to stop and lose position with two Mercedes behind. I was really surprised that they didn’t leave George (Russell) strategically, as a tailback. When he stopped, there was a direct fight between Max and Lewis, and the difference in tires – he said.
Immediately after Max returned to the track, Hamilton warned Mercedes that it would be difficult to hold off his rival – and complained bitterly about the strategy over the radio. So it happened. With new soft tyres, the Dutch driver passed the seven-time champion without any obstacles at Zandvoort.
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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the Formula 1 Dutch GP — Photo: Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images
Instead of staying on the line with the two Mercedes on their tail, RBR preferred to get to the front of the pit with Verstappen. The Austrian team’s idea was clear: it would be better to attack on soft tires than to defend with old hard tires.
Verstappen admitted that he would not be able to continue the advantage on the hard tires “there is no way”. However, the Dutch driver confirmed that the decision to go through the pits came from the pitwall.
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Max Verstappen celebrates winning the 2022 F1 Dutch GP – Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images
– I didn’t ask. You have to trust your team to make the right choice, and they did. They stopped me, put on soft tires and we fell (out of position), but Russell stopped to put compounds on the red belt and we went back to second place. Surprisingly, we got off to a good start. With extra speed on the Mercedes, I got the maneuver in turn 1 – he said.
Formula 1 heads to Monza, completing three rounds at the Italian GP. There are seven stages left in the 2022 season.