Mario Isola says Red Bull Racing played a ‘strategic masterclass’ during the French Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen’s two-stop strategy getting the better of the one-stop strategy that was made by the two Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers.
Aside from the struggling Charles Leclerc, who was forced to pit his Scuderia Ferrari as his tyres dropped off the cliff and he tumbled down the order, Verstappen was the only driver inside the top ten to make two pit stops at the Circuit Paul Ricard, and it paid off as he caught and passed Valtteri Bottas for second and then Lewis Hamilton for the lead.
Verstappen’s pace on newer medium compound tyres in the closing stages was dramatically faster than either Mercedes was able to manage, and as a result the Dutchman was able to take his third victory of the season and extend his advantage at the top of the Drivers’ Championship.
Isola, the Head of F1 and Car Racing at Pirelli Motorsport, says the unknown conditions thrown at the teams and drivers on Sunday made for an exciting strategy battle to play out, and it showed Red Bull got it right by gambling on pitting Verstappen twice.
“This race turned into an intense and exciting strategic battle, with a number of unknown factors such as cooler track temperatures, rain this morning that reset the track, and wind that continued to catch a few drivers out, all playing a part,” said Isola. “These aspects contributed as well to increased front-left graining, which was key today.
“As a result, although a one-stopper was expected, there was also possibility of a two-stopper, which Red Bull and Max Verstappen went for decisively. The margins were very finely balanced, as everyone could see, between a two-stopper and a one-stopper, and it took a lot of commitment to make either strategy work.
“Congratulations to Max Verstappen and Red Bull for a strategic masterclass today, which kept everyone guessing right up to the final lap.”