Christian Horner admitted there was frustration at Red Bull Racing about how the Hungarian Grand Prix panned out on Sunday, with Max Verstappen controlling the race for much of the afternoon only to be denied the victory right at the end by a charging Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen, who took his maiden pole position on Saturday and held onto the lead at the start, was unable to shake off the attention of the Mercedes AMG Motorsport driver during the first three-quarters of the race, and it was only a pit stop gamble that ultimately decided the race in favour of Hamilton.
“It was frustrating the way that things panned out,” admitted Horner. “Max did everything we asked of him, he made the start and controlled the race in the opening laps.
“We needed to pit earlier to cover Lewis, who pitted six laps later and Mercedes had great pace today. They pushed, pushed, pushed and we were able to protect and defend.”
Horner said Mercedes’ gamble to pit Hamilton a second time left Red Bull unable to respond, feeling Verstappen would have come out behind the Briton had he reacted with a pit stop of his own on the following lap such was the pace advantage on the new rubber.
Ultimately, once Hamilton made the move for the lead, Verstappen did head to the pits for a fresh set of tyres with the aim of securing fastest lap, something he was able to achieve.
“Max and Lewis were so far ahead of the field with twenty-two laps to go that Mercedes rolled the strategic dice and pitted Lewis for new medium tyres,” said Horner. “If we had pitted to cover we would have conceded track position so our bed was made to get to the end of the race.
“Congratulations to Mercedes and Lewis today, they were able to get the lead with three or four laps to go, at which point we had nothing to lose but bolt on a new set of softs and take the fastest lap.”
With Pierre Gasly finishing sixth in the second Red Bull, Horner felt it was a frustrating day for the team who had hoped for so much more from the afternoon.
However, the points for Verstappen closed the gap on Valtteri Bottas to seven points in the battle for second in the Drivers’ Championship, while Red Bull are now only forty points behind Scuderia Ferrari in the Constructors’ battle.
“With Pierre, he lost places on the first lap but was able to recover through strategy back up to P6,” said Horner. “Second and sixth position feels slightly frustrating on a day that promised more but nonetheless we achieved P2, pole position and fastest lap.
“Max has closed the gap to Valtteri in the Drivers’ Championship and the whole Team now heads into a well-earned summer break with real performance on the car in the last few races.”