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Red Bull team orders defended in mismatched battle

Red Bull team orders defended in mismatched battle

F1 News

Red Bull team orders defended in mismatched battle

Red Bull team orders defended in mismatched battle

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has defended the use of team orders that helped Max Verstappen finish ahead of Sergio Perez at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Verstappen and Perez scored a one-two at the end of a race at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya that baked in temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius.

Perez, however, indicated via a team radio comment he was not too enamoured with the result as he said: "I'm happy for the team but we need to speak later,"

The tension was born from a strategy call made early on after Verstappen had slid off into the gravel when running second, dropping him to fourth behind George Russell in his Mercedes and Perez.

A team orchestrated swap soon followed, with Perez then claiming post-race he was informed he would be given the place back at a later stage.

After the first round of pits stops, the opportunity appeared to materialise just before the halfway stage as he closed in on Russell and Verstappen on fresher tyres, only to be told to hold station.

When he was again instructed to allow Verstappen by later in the race after the Dutch driver had made a third stop, Perez agreed to do so but added he felt the call was "very unfair".

Explaining the situation, Horner said: “I spoke with him when he got out of the car.

"I think the point for any driver, if they don’t have the clear overview of the strategy or a race in front of them, it’s always going to be emotive to give up a lead but he played very much the team game.

“I think he understood very clearly that it wasn’t a like-for-like fight because the pace delta between the strategies was so great that from the team point of view, for me, it just didn’t make any sense.

“And that is why we didn’t let the drivers get into a fight on this occasion.”

Red Bull play the team game on 'hugely important day'

The one-two result for Red Bull not only moved Verstappen to the top of the drivers' standings but also pushed the team into the lead of the constructors' table, both for the first time this season.

Expanding on the decision making, Horner added: "Checo released him [Verstappen] to have a go at George, and then obviously George was very robust in his defence and without the benefit of a consistent DRS, it was very difficult for Max to make the pass.

“He obviously got the job done, but at that point, we decided our best way to beat George was to try to give Max the tyre advantage and convert to a three-stop strategy.

“We were still undecided at that stage on three versus two. We could see our tyres were in better condition than some of our rivals and then, of course, the Ferrari retired, unfortunately for Leclerc.

“So at that point, we had converted Max onto a three-stop that then puts him out of sync with Checo.

“We managed to bag a pit stop over George and then, of course, he very quickly closed on Checo and at that stage, there was a tyre delta of close to two seconds a lap.

“So with water temperatures, oil temperatures and DRS that was intermittently working, it didn’t make any sense for the team to let them fight because it was an unfair fight anyway.

“As it turned out, we had to pit Checo for the end of the race. So both drivers worked together as a team and to get maximum points was hugely important on a day that unfortunately, Ferrari had an issue.”

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