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Red Bull: Two more laps and Max Verstappen would have won!

Red Bull believe they would have had a good chance of winning at Silverstone with two more laps – Helmut Marko tips his hat to Lewis Hamilton

For a long time it looked as though Max Verstappen would end up with a sobering result away from the podium at the Formula 1 race in Silverstone, but in the end the Dutchman could even have won the race – at least that’s what Red Bull believes. “We were two laps short,” said motorsport consultant Helmut Marko on ORF.

If the race had been two laps longer, Verstappen would have been able to catch Lewis Hamilton ahead of him, the Austrian believes. Verstappen had taken the hard tires when changing from intermediates to slicks, while Hamilton took the soft tires – as did Lando Norris.

But while the McLaren collapsed, Hamilton was able to carry his car to the finish line on the soft tires and celebrate his ninth home win with a 1.4-second lead, which even prompted Marko to sing his praises. “That was Hamilton’s strength again,” said the Austrian, paying tribute.

“His tires had already started to graine slightly, as we can see. And we thought it would work out, but you can see what a master he is, who can read a race and push the tires in such a way that they don’t break,” praised Marko.

And so Verstappen had to make do with second place today and his second winless race in a row. Incidentally, this has only happened to the Dutchman once before since the start of the ground effect era: in the same double from Silverstone and Spielberg two years ago.

But the Dutchman knows that things could have turned out much worse on Sunday. Particularly in the first stint, he clearly lost out to his direct rivals. Although he passed Norris at the start, he was unable to hold off the Briton with degrading tires – and neither could his team-mate Oscar Piastri.

“The start wasn’t particularly good,” he says after the race. “I tried to keep up, but I just ran out of tires. Everything got hot and I just had problems with the grip,” said Verstappen. “So Lando came past, and then Oscar came past too.”

When it then started to rain, things didn’t get any better for the three-time world champion, who is actually considered a strong rain driver. “I had no grip at all. I didn’t want to take too many risks because I just didn’t feel comfortable,” he describes. “So I thought to myself: ‘I’ll just sit here and try to survive’. And that’s exactly what I did. “

First tire change went on

When Carlos Sainz also pushed from behind, it looked like it was going to be a bad afternoon for Verstappen. But then things started to look up for him and Red Bull. Verstappen made the right decision when changing to intermediate tires and immediately made up two positions.

He was the first top driver to pit, while McLaren and Mercedes ahead of him stayed on slicks for another lap. “Max had a really good outlap and was five seconds faster in the middle sector, which put him ahead of Russell and Piastri,” praised team boss Christian Horner.

“But for the next three or four laps we were nowhere and it felt like the extra lap was really hurting us,” he says. “But then it calmed down and when the track went back to slicks, Max was the fastest car on the track again.”

For Horner, it was therefore a “very strange race” in which it was all about the tires. “It’s all about the tires working at a certain point in time. And different cars work differently with the tires. And you saw those extremities today when the track went from damp to wet and back to dry. “

Verstappen trusts his instincts

The final decisive factor towards a good result came when he once again made the right decision when changing from intermediates to slicks. Once again, Verstappen caught the right lap and also chose the right tires for his tactics with hard – in contrast to Norris, who broke in on softs and brought Verstappen second place.

When it came to timing, the Red Bull driver relied entirely on his instincts and also prevailed over his team – something else that gave him an advantage over Norris

While his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase gives him all the information he has over the radio in such cases, “if you as a driver feel that you can no longer continue on slicks or that it’s time for the Inter, then you just have to shout over the radio that you’re coming in. And that’s what we did,” he explains.

“And it’s the same from Inter to slick. Of course, sometimes the team can help you a bit more if someone already has slicks, but at the end of the day the sun came out, the track dried quickly and I took some risks,” said the Dutchman.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure it was the right lap, but we just went for it and at the end of the day it was the right lap. “

Why there was no alternative to the Hard

And of course it was also the right tire: “We were able to push on the tire because the medium wasn’t good enough for us,” explains Verstappen. “To go full throttle, the hard was the best. “

The soft that Hamilton and Norris took, however, was not an option for Red Bull. “It seemed that the soft was crap in the first stint,” said Horner, referring to Guanyu Zhou and Esteban Ocon, who had started on the soft and were far behind at the end. “The front tire opened up pretty quickly, we could already see that on Friday.”

The hard tire, on the other hand, was more durable and therefore more suitable. “We didn’t really care what the others had because we knew that the hard tire would be better for us,” said the team boss. “We already had some information from Checo at the start of the race that he seemed to be performing pretty well. “

Red Bull puzzled by McLaren

One thing did surprise Red Bull: “That McLaren was the only team that had a new medium and didn’t use it,” says Horner. “It would have been ideal for the conditions. “

McLaren had already recognized this mistake themselves after the race. But that was good for Red Bull, who managed to overtake the McLaren and finish second – after a race in which Verstappen had to make do with a patched-up underbody (a new one was not available after the Q1 departure) and at times seemed on course for fifth or sixth place.

“To finish second after a poor afternoon in terms of performance is something I’ll take with me,” said Verstappen.

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