Red Bull admit Sprint strategy error – but will it help them in race?


Christian Horner believes that Max Verstappen will have an advantage in Sunday’s race as he has two sets of soft tyres at his disposal; Watch the Sao Paulo Grand Prix live on Sky Sports with coverage from 4.30pm and lights out at 6pm on Sunday

Last Updated: 12/11/22 11:04pm

Christian Horner hopes what Red Bull lost in strategy on Saturday might be earned back on Sunday

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Christian Horner hopes what Red Bull lost in strategy on Saturday might be earned back on Sunday

Christian Horner hopes what Red Bull lost in strategy on Saturday might be earned back on Sunday

Christian Horner admitted Red Bull made a tyre strategy error in Saturday’s Sao Paulo Sprint, but the decision may hand Max Verstappen an advantage in Sunday’s race.

Verstappen, on medium tyres, finished fourth in the 24-lap Sprint, losing the lead and falling behind the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on the faster soft tyres.

“I think the soft tyre would’ve been a better tyre for us today but the advantage is that we take that extra set into Sunday’s race,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

“So we gave it up strategically today and hopefully we’ll get it back tomorrow.

“I’d rather have won the race and have two new sets of softs, but it sets up a really fascinating Grand Prix. Mercedes are going to be quick and drive a tactical race. It’s two Red Bulls against two Mercedes and Ferrari, you can’t rule them out either.”

Max Verstappen made contact with Carlos Sainz towards the end of the Sprint

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Max Verstappen made contact with Carlos Sainz towards the end of the Sprint

Max Verstappen made contact with Carlos Sainz towards the end of the Sprint

Explaining the decision in more detail, he added: “We thought that the softs were limited in range.

“We took the decision to start on the mediums. If they could survive the first 12 laps, the second half of the race would become a bit more comfortable.

“Having survived the first half of the race, we actually ended up on a worse degradation than the softs.”

Verstappen lost the lead to Russell and will start Sunday's race third

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Verstappen lost the lead to Russell and will start Sunday’s race third

Verstappen lost the lead to Russell and will start Sunday’s race third

Horner also argued that Mercedes, who have delivered a range of upgrades in recent weeks, may have had too much pace despite the strategy error.

“Mercedes had a very quick car today and we couldn’t hold them off,” he added.

Verstappen had an epic battle with Russell for the lead of the Sprint

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Verstappen had an epic battle with Russell for the lead of the Sprint

Verstappen had an epic battle with Russell for the lead of the Sprint

“They’ve been heavily developing this car through the season and they’ve been getting closer, so it’s no real surprise that they’ve had this kind of performance and George has done a good job there.”

Verstappen concerned over tyre degradation

Verstappen reflects on the decision to drive on medium tyres for the Sprint

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Verstappen reflects on the decision to drive on medium tyres for the Sprint

Verstappen reflects on the decision to drive on medium tyres for the Sprint

While Horner is optimistic about his team’s chances, Verstappen is concerned about the degradation of tyres on his Red Bull around Interlagos.

The world champion snatched the lead from surprise pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen on the third lap, but was passed by Russell after a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle before making contact with Sainz – whose five-grid penalty sees Verstappen start the race in third – and slipping further down the order.

Verstappen had passed pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen to take the lead on lap three

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Verstappen had passed pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen to take the lead on lap three

Verstappen had passed pole-sitter Kevin Magnussen to take the lead on lap three

“At the time I felt alright [about the tyre choice]. It somehow didn’t work but even on a soft I think I was going to be too slow,” said Verstappen.

“Really, we just had way too much degradation here today.

“We will analyse it, I am not sure if we can do a lot for tomorrow, but it can’t be worse than today.

“At the end of the day, when you have so much more degradation than another team, it doesn’t matter what tyre you are on.

“I think we just need to try and improve that first and normally the tyre should work”

Watch the Sao Paulo Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 at 6pm with build-up from 4:30pm.

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