He had made it clear directly Christian Horner in his radio message to Max Verstappen immediately after the victory, using the term “Payback”. Vengeance. After Hungary 2019 and Spain 2021, this time it was Red Bull who mocked Mercedes at a strategic level. The Austrian team in France decided to make an extra pit stop to take advantage of the fresh tires and recover the gap accumulated with the additional stop on the track. It was mainly thanks to this move that Verstappen managed to take his third victory of the season, thus extending to +12 the lead in the standings over Lewis Hamilton. Speaking with reporters after the race, all the Red Bull leaders made it clear that the idea of the two stops had already been thought of before the GP.
Paradoxically, however, the fact that Max Verstappen – after losing the lead at the first corner – regained it at the end of the first ‘lap’ of the pit stop, forced the strategists of Milton Keynes to use a extra dose of courage to stick to the original plan. “It would have almost been easier if [Hamilton e Verstappen] had maintained their position on the track – joked the Red Bull team principal Christian Horner after the race, as reported by the site RacingNews365 – in that case we would have made the call anyway. But it would have made our decision easier“.
Mercedes, strategic regret
Unlike what Mercedes did in the past with Hamilton, the Austrian team stopped Verstappen while he was in the lead. “Make that call when you’re in the lead, the tires look okay and so on, it was a pretty bold call – Horner added – but it was the fastest way we found to get to the end of the race “he concluded.