Christian Horner admitted Max Verstappen did not have the pace needed to make a challenge to the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team during Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, but it was pleasing the Dutchman was able to finish on the podium for a sixth consecutive race.
Horner, the Team Principal at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, said tyre management played a big part in the race at Spa-Francorchamps, with Verstappen forced to ease off in the closing laps to ensure he reached the chequered flag without any issues.
The team thought about changing Verstappen to a two-stop strategy but it was thought to be too tricky, particularly with the straight-line speed of the two Renault DP World F1 Team drivers, with Daniel Ricciardo too close to the Dutchman for them to take the risk.
“It was a tricky race today with tyre management, but we managed to get solid points on the board with both cars,” said Horner. “Max didn’t quite have the pace to fight the Mercedes with tyre degradation in the second half of the race proving to be significant, so we were weighing up whether to one or two stop.
“Daniel’s straight-line speed was obviously very strong, so we opted to stick with a one stop and Max managed to bring the car home for his sixth podium in a row.”
Horner also praised Alexander Albon in the second Red Bull despite the Thai driver losing fifth place on the final lap to the second Renault of Esteban Ocon.
The decision to put Albon on the medium compound opposed to the hard compound made for a difficult end to the Grand Prix, and he ultimately lost touch with Ricciardo ahead of him and fell back into the clutches of Ocon and Lando Norris behind.
Albon lost the place to Ocon on the final lap but was at least able to maintain sixth ahead of the McLaren F1 Team racer, with the position ensuring he now sits fourth in the Drivers’ Championship heading into next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
“Alex lost a place at the start to Ocon but managed to get it back through his pit stop when we elected to put him on the medium tyre which we thought was the best compound to attack the Renaults,” added Horner.
“He did a good job today defending hard throughout the Grand Prix but unfortunately the Renaults were just too fast on the straights with their lower downforce configuration and he lost P5 on the final lap.
“Alex is now up to fourth in the Drivers’ Championship and he’s had a very solid weekend so now we’ll continue to work hard as a Team before we arrive in Monza next week.”