Max Verstappen admits Red Bull didn’t expect to be in with a chance of victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix but praised the team for its strategic decisions.
A power loss in Q3 resulted in Verstappen starting from tenth on the grid at a track where Ferrari looked strong in Friday practice, with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc starting second and third respectively. Even with Leclerc moving into the lead ahead of George Russell by the halfway point, Verstappen climbed into the top four before a strategic error from Ferrari opened the door for the Dutchman to take the lead, passing Leclerc twice due to a spin, and cruising to victory.
“I think nobody really expected this,” Verstappen said. “We said to each other that we have to remain calm before the race, and I think we did that. We made all the right calls in the race. It was a bit hectic for me in the first lap, getting a bit boxed in and staying out of trouble, but after that we had a few overtakes and then we pitted at the right time. We put the right tires on the car. I think that was the most important thing today — to have the grip.
“Slowly we were just moving forward. Then, I think that final stop was very good at the time we planned it. I basically saw that Charles was struggling a lot on the hard tyre, so that was my moment to try and attack him.
“I got him and then I spun; did a 360; lost the position again. It was a bit unlucky, of course, but then we just kept our heads down and got him back again, pulled a gap and basically managed that to the end, because it started to drizzle as well; no more risk to take and just bring it home.”
While Verstappen acknowledged the error Ferrari made in putting Leclerc on hard tires midway through the race, he says that shouldn’t detract from Red Bull making the right calls.
“I think we were competitive, but I think also Ferrari chose the wrong tires in their final stint before they then pitted again. Before that I think they were quite strong as well. It was just being on the right tire.
“I think…the call we had in the beginning — to be on the soft — was a bit safer; to stay out of trouble and have a bit of grip. I think it’s about little details again.”