Max Verstappen will not let hindsight cloud his view of Red Bull’s decision to pit him with two laps remaining of the British Grand Prix, despite missing out on victory by under six seconds.
Valtteri Bottas suffered a puncture with three laps to go, allowing Verstappen to inherit second place and pull comfortably clear of the ailing Mercedes. Red Bull decided to pit at the end of that lap and switch to softs with a free stop allowing Verstappen to chase the fastest lap, but with Lewis Hamilton also getting a puncture and limping to victory on the final lap, the Dutchman would have won without that stop if he avoided a similar tire failure.
“It’s always easy to say afterwards but I think we were also lucky today that Valtteri had that puncture, so we gained a position,” Verstappen said. “So I’m actually not disappointed at all or anything. Once Valtteri had that puncture I thought, ‘OK this is an easy P2,’ so we just pit for new tires and make sure, because I was also not sure what was going on with my tires.
“Normally when you see other cars getting punctures and you have pitted on the same lap you think it might happen to you as well, so you don’t want to have that problem. So we pitted just to be sure, of course for the soft tires, and then Lewis had his puncture but that’s also unlucky — it could have been lucky for me but unlucky for Lewis. In the end it is what it is and I’m very happy with second.”
Verstappen says there was no predicting Hamilton would suffer his issue, counting his second place as a lucky one rather than a missed opportunity.
“Yeah but I could also pick up a puncture and then you lose a lot more,” he noted. “That’s the thing — it’s always so easy to say afterwards that we should have just continued, but who would have said that Lewis would have got a puncture? How often does this happen? Normally never. So I don’t regret anything, I think we made the right decision.
“It’s easy to comment afterwards; you don’t know at the time and we felt it was the right decision. I still think it’s the right decision. Normally you don’t get punctures. They were also the deserved winners, it’s not like I’m sitting here upset or disappointed. I’m actually very happy to be second — normally we would have been third.”
Verstappen was close enough to the Mercedes pair in race trim to be a threat when Hamilton and Bottas ran into trouble, but he says it was not an exciting afternoon from his point of view as he spent most of the grand prix alone on track.
“It was a pretty boring race for me; at one point I didn’t see a car in front or behind so I reminded my engineer to hydrate, to drink, I had nothing else to do! So we still need to improve but it is what it is. You need to find other things to do while driving and keep enjoying it!”