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Max Verstappen paid credit to Hannah Schmitz for her role in his win at the Hungary Grand Prix at the weekend and the Red Bull strategist has now opened up on how things played out behind the scenes that saw the Dutchman claim victory after starting in 10th. Red Bull looked set to head into Sunday’s race looking for little more than damage control after a disastrous Saturday session.
Sergio Perez was not able to show any real pace as he was knocked out in Q2 while Verstappen suffered mechanical issues as he bemoaned the problems on team radio. Christian Horner confirmed after qualifying that it was a power unit-related problem that stopped Verstappen from being able to challenge in Q3.
With both Ferrari and Mercedes looking strong, Red Bull faced a huge battle heading into Sunday’s race. A podium finish was the best outcome Red Bull were hoping for and even then it was going to take a monumental effort to pull that off.
And it was exactly that from Verstappen as soon as the lights went out with the reigning F1 world champion putting in the drive of his life to eventually win the race comfortably. Errors from Ferrari played into the hands of Red Bull while Mercedes ultimately didn’t have the pace of Verstappen’s Red Bull.
But Red Bull’s strategists were heralded for their role in helping Verstappen along the way with some brilliantly timed decisions. The biggest of all may well have come at the beginning of the race though as Schmitz admitted they had a last-minute change of heart to start the race on the hard compound.
“Because we were starting out of position, one of the more classic strategies to do is to start on the harder tyre and go much longer,” she said on Sky Sports. “Particularly with overtaking being difficult in Hungary so that was our plan.
“But we had also talked a lot pre-race about if the conditions are a bit damp and very cool, as they might have been, that we could consider the soft tyre as the alternative just because that might be better in those conditions. Then the laps to grid, both drivers were very vocal about having hardly any grip even though they were already on the soft tyre.
“The race engineers were then like ‘I don’t think the hards are a good idea’. We all had a long discussion about it with Christian [Horner] as well and decided to change to the soft tyres.
“There was a little bit of rain in the air as well so really that was the better tyre for those conditions. Our main concern then was whether we could make enough progress in that first stint to make it worth it but obviously both drivers made great progress so it really was.”
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