Christian Horner breaks silence on controversial decision

Christian Horner has explained Red Bull’s decision to help Max Verstappen get the edge over Sergio Perez.

Christian Horner has addressed concerns and reveals the unexpected twist behind Max Verstappen’s lead overtake on Sergio Perez at the Dutch Grand Prix, putting speculation to rest.

The Dutch Grand Prix witnessed a whirlwind of strategic decisions spurred by the sudden rain at the outset. 

As Sergio Perez claimed the lead by being the first to switch to intermediate tires, Max Verstappen orchestrated a remarkable recovery, surprising even his own team with his out-lap prowess.

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, delved into the intense moments of the race, sharing insights with Sky F1. 

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

He highlighted the challenge of making the right call when leading the pack, stating, “It was tricky because when you’re the first car, [it is] very hard to make that call. 

“Checo pulled the trigger, made a great call, got in, the team reacted super fast, we got him back out.” 

This decision played a significant role in the race’s early dynamics.

Verstappen’s reentry into the race came with impressive pace, rapidly narrowing the gap to his teammate Perez, who had held a considerable lead. 

Article continues below

Explaining the sequence, Horner stated, “Max started coming through the field so quickly, Checo at the front had pulled a good gap as well and was focused on trying to get a pit stop over the cars behind. 

“So that was pivotal in that first part of getting the calls right.”

The Verstappen-Perez dynamic gave rise to speculation about whether Red Bull had orchestrated the change in positions intentionally. 

Horner categorically dismissed these claims, offering a candid account of the situation. “Well, there were a couple of reasons behind making that decision,” Horner clarified. 

He cited the presence of other competitors on slick tires and the pace dynamics, emphasising that the team’s focus was on optimising the strategic advantage.

One factor that caught Red Bull by surprise was Verstappen’s out-lap speed. Horner detailed, “His out-lap was so extreme it took us slightly by surprise that Max jumped Checo.” 

The unexpected burst of pace played a pivotal role in reshuffling the positions on the track.

As the race unfolded, Perez’s strategic acumen continued to play a role. 

READ: Toto Wolff provides huge Lewis Hamilton contract update amid dispute

He embarked on a gamble to switch from slicks to inters as heavy rain returned, a move that initially seemed advantageous. 

However, misfortune struck as Perez aquaplaned into the pit wall, leading to a five-second penalty. 

Horner sympathetically noted, “He was probably actually surfing at that point as opposed to speeding, but very harsh for him and he deserves very much to be on the podium today.”