Verstappen frustration sparked ‘something different’ for Miami win
By Ian Parkes
Monday 8th May, 2023 - 10:21am
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has revealed Max Verstappen was the architect of his Miami Grand Prix victory after opting for an alternate strategy after being left frustrated following his qualifying error.
Whilst pole-sitting team-mate Sergio Perez started the race around the Miami International Autodrome on the medium Pirelli tyres, reigning F1 champion Verstappen opted for the hard compound.
That was a response to his qualifying performance in which he made a mistake on his first run in Q3 which proved costly as a red flag introduced after a crash from Charles Leclerc denied the Dutch driver a second outing, leaving him starting from ninth.
Opting to do “something different”, according to Horner, Verstappen beautifully scythed his way through the field to move up to second place behind Perez, with the gap just 3.7s when the Mexican pitted on lap 20.
Verstappen then delivered a stunning performance on ageing tyres that by the time he pitted after 45 laps, he was within 1.5s of Perez when he emerged on new mediums, which ultimately gave him the advantage to claim the lead two laps later and the win.
“We felt that from a simulation point of view, the medium hard was the quicker strategy, hence why he (Perez) took that strategy for the race,” said Horner.
“Max was keen to run the alternative strategy, starting on the hard, which, certainly in a simulation world, wasn’t quite as quick but would have benefitted if there was a safety car in the latter part of the race.
“Checo did a great job converting the start, but what was truly impressive was that Max never dropped more than five and a half seconds behind him, despite being in the traffic, and then efficiently made the progress through the traffic.”
Qualifying let-down sparked Verstappen decision
Horner added: “Then the real crux of the race was after Checo pitted on lap 20, for the next 22 laps with Max on the hard tyre, it was basically a race against the stopwatch.
“And on 20-lap older tyres, that’s where he was truly impressive to match the lap time, sometimes better the lap times of what Checo was able to do. That was where he won the race.
“So when he did eventually pit with 12 laps to go on to the medium compound tyre, he was within one and a half seconds when he left the pit lane.
“And then with the grip advantage he had, they obviously raced hard, but fairly, but the damage had already been done through the middle part of the stint.”
Suggested to Horner that Verstappen opting for the alternative strategy was because making the same call as Perez would have made life trickier for him, he added: “If he’d run the other strategy, the performance would have been very similar.
“He was obviously frustrated with himself after quali, that he made a mistake and obviously didn’t get the chance to rectify that.
“He was confident coming into the race, and just wanted to do something slightly different.”
Following strategy discussions post-qualifying, Horner had no qualms in allowing Verstappen to take the alternative route.
“All the numbers are run overnight and we weighed up the pros and cons, his engineering team,” said Horner.
“And Max was keen to give that a run. I was happy to sign it off and say ‘If that’s what you want to do, then okay’.”
In claiming his third win of the season and the point for the fastest lap, Verstappen now holds a 14-point lead over Perez after five of the 23-race campaign.
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