Around three laps of the Hungaroring were all that stood between Max Verstappen and an engine failure last weekend, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has revealed.
Heading into the weekend with an ageing engine, Verstappen suffered issues during qualifying as he began to lose power, meaning that he could not put a representative lap together in the final session.
He was forced to start the race 10th on the grid as a result, so he and Sergio Perez, who qualified 11th following a miserable qualifying for the Mexican, had their engines changed.
The Austrian side’s drivers are still within their allocation for the season, so no penalties were handed out for the race.
Verstappen went on to take victory having got off to a solid start, passing Valtteri Bottas in the Alfa Romeo before clearing the Alpine pair of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
Perez followed his team-mate through past the Alpine pair, but struggled to make any further progress as he wound up fifth, taking advantage of another woeful strategic error by Ferrari which sent Charles Leclerc down to P6.
Verstappen passed the Monegasque and jumped George Russell in the pits as he went on to win the race by 10 seconds from Sir Lewis Hamilton.
In the end, Horner sees the silver lining of the Dutchman’s issue happening in qualifying, as the engine likely would have failed in the race due to wear.
“We changed the power unit because there was a part that broke on Max’s car [in qualifying],” said Horner.
“Luckily we are here now [as race winners].
“With the maximum hindsight, it’s lucky the part broke yesterday because with 12 kilometres more, it would have broken during the laps to the grid.
“So, we decided to change the whole power unit rather than trying to fix it there and, as a precaution, we also changed Checo’s engine.”
Verstappen’s eighth win of the season takes him 80 points clear of Leclerc in the Drivers’ Standings, while Red Bull’s advantage over Ferrari now stands at 97 points.