The key buzzword from this year’s Monaco Grand Prix was ‘overcut’ as both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo put to good use the strategy of running longer on their first set of tyres than their nearest rivals.
Somewhat controversially, both Vettel and Ricciardo jumped their respective team-mates in Monaco through the savvy, rarely utilised strategy and left many questioning both Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing’s allegiances when it comes to their drivers.
Did either team favour one of its drivers over the other? Red Bull’s technical boss, Adrian Newey, believes not and insists that at no point was it clear whether the overcut would work.
“We discussed it before that if we were struck behind Bottas with our two cars, then we would split them,” he told Motorsport.com.
“It wasn’t clear before the race which was more powerful, the undercut or the overcut. The undercut got the warm-up on the first lap, the overcut depends on you having more natural pace.
“It was close. The undercut almost worked. Unfortunately we had a slightly slow pit stop [with Verstappen]. It was one of those judgement ones.
“Obviously if you’re going to do one undercutting and one overcutting, whoever’s ahead has the best chance of an undercut, so that’s what we did.”
Ricciardo’s team-mate, Max Verstappen, was left furious after it became clear he had lost out during the race and made his anger clear via the team radio. Speaking specifically of Verstappen’s frustration, Newey said:
“We discussed it before the race, we said to both drivers in all honesty we don’t know which is the better solution, the undercut or the overcut, and they both accepted it.
“It’s the usual thing, when a driver gets out of the car he doesn’t understand, his adrenalin is still up.”
A greater frustration may stem from Red Bull failing to live up to expectations so far this year having fallen behind Ferrari and Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Although developments brought to Monaco performed well, Newey believes the next races in Montreal and Baku will be difficult.
“Suffice to say we are likely to be less competitive in the next couple of events,” he said. “They have similar characteristics, although not as extreme as Monza.
“At the moment we’ve been reasonably clear as third-best team. Obviously we’ve now got to try and move forwards to do more of what we did in Monaco.
“I think the car showed reasonably pace, and we’ve just got to keep working at it. Monaco is obviously a fairly unique circuit, but we’ve definitely improved the car. We had a few bits on it this weekend, to compliment what we did in Barcelona. So we’ve just got to keep pushing forwards.”