Christian Horner reveals Ferrari decision buoyed Red Bull and Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen won the Hungarian Grand Prix despite having started P10.

It was a memorable Sunday at the Hungaroring for Red Bull Racing, after the Austrian team turned what was looking like a disastrous weekend into yet another victory.

After a power unit issue during Q3, Max Verstappen was unable to set a lap-time in the final part of qualifying, resulting in a P10 start for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

This was still better than Sergio Pérez managed, as the Mexican driver was eliminated in Q2; he started the race in P11.

Sunday was a completely different story for Red Bull, with Verstappen making his way through to take an unexpected victory, with Pérez managing to recover fifth.

READ: Sergio Perez unhappy with FIA after Hungary GP as he suffers repeat of Paul Ricard troubles

Team principal Christian Horner hailed Verstappen’s drive as “one of his best”, with the Dutchman also having experienced a clutch issue at the start of the race.

“We were out of it on Friday, we had a tough day yesterday despite feeling we got the car into a much better window,” said Horner.

“Then a really competitive race – a bit of a clutch issue early on with Max, which we had to manage – but once we solved that, we were able to release him. It was one of his best drives.”

Whilst Verstappen’s performance was magnificent, he was somewhat gifted the race lead by yet another Ferrari blunder.

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Charles Leclerc was leading the Grand Prix, before pitting and being fitted with the Hard compound, something Pirelli advised against.

With the track surface being cool, Leclerc failed to generate any heat into the hardest rubber, resulting in the Monegasque driver making a stop more than everybody else.

As a result, Leclerc fell from first, to P6, whilst being overtaken by Verstappen twice.

The Dutchman managed to overtake his title rival, spin, then re-overtake the Ferrari driver, all in the space of a few laps.

Horner refused to comment on Ferrari’s strategic error but did reveal that he felt victory was possible once he’d seen what the Italian team had done.

“I can only focus on our performance and we did a great job today,” said Horner.

“As soon as we saw Charles go onto the hard tyre, as soon as the white-walled tyres came out, we thought: OK, we’ve really got a chance now. And Checo [Perez] was fantastic because he was on a different strategy, he let Max immediately get onto the back of Charles to make that pass.

“Max then had a spin, warmed his tyres up a bit more then had to do it all again. A phenomenal performance.”

Verstappen’s strategy was one of the key reasons as to why he claimed victory, after his early second stop was the reason as to why Leclerc was fitted with the Hards.

Horner was full of praise for strategy engineer Hannah Schmitz, who the Red Bull boss hailed as “fantastic”.

“She’s fantastic, the whole team is, it’s not just about one person. The pit stops today again were dynamite. Just the way the whole team is working is a joy to see…”

Pérez also drove very well, given that he started P11.

The Mexican driver would’ve most likely have taken the final podium spot in the closing laps of the race; however, a late Virtual Safety Car saw the Red Bull driver run out of time to close Russell for third.

Despite the disappointment of Pérez not claiming a podium, Horner was still impressed by the Mexican’s pace.

READ: Does Mattia Binotto really deserve his Red Bull ’employee of the month’ award?

“I made a joke, I said: ‘Checo’s gone on holiday already’, and he went and told everybody! Look, look at Checo’s race in the second half today,” insisted Horner.

“I think without that VSC he’d have been challenging for the podium.

“He was a second and a half quicker in the closing stages than both George and Carlos, he was coming very, very quickly. I think a reset over the summer break, just to understand what’s not quite gone right for him in the last couple of races, [and] he’ll come back stronger from Spa onwards.”