Christian Horner believes Mercedes had a “stroke of luck” with the red flag in Mexico otherwise the one-stopping Lewis Hamilton would’ve lost to the Ferraris.
Red Bull had a mixed day out at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez as Max Verstappen raced to a record-breaking 16th Grand Prix win for this season while Sergio Perez retired on the opening lap.
Verstappen took the chequered flag 13.8s ahead of Hamilton with pole-sitter Charles Leclerc falling to third.
Lewis Hamilton finished second to Max Verstappen in Mexico
However, Horner reckons it would’ve been a different situation had the race not been red-flagged when Kevin Magnussen suffered a huge crash into the Turn 10 barriers Lap 33.
Magnussen was able to climb out of the car without any injuries, but the crash caused a red flag due to the lengthy repairs needed to be made to the barrier.
That meant a free tyre change for all the drivers with Horner believing that saved Hamilton’s race.
“They had a bit of a stroke of luck because they went in very early for a one-stop strategy,” he told Viaplay. “I think in the end they would have been beaten by the Ferraris.
“But it is true that they had good speed and did well in terms of tyre wear, as we have seen from them all year.”
Red Bull, though, also had a moment of luck when Ferrari opted to put Leclerc on a set of hard tyres for the restart with the Briton admitting they were worried Ferrari would go for the mediums.
“It completely neutralized our race,” he said of the red flag, “but the good thing at that moment was that Charles switched to the hard tyre just like us. We were afraid that he would go for the medium compound.
“Then Max had it completely under control again.”
As for Red Bull’s decision to go with a two-stop strategy with their reigning World Champion, he said: “No risk, no fun, that’s what Dietrich Mateschitz always told us.
“The compounds that Pirelli brought to this race were a step softer this year. Last year it was already at the limit to do a one-stopper and that’s why we decided to go for a two-stopper this year.
“As a result, we had to give up our position on the track at one point, but we were confident we had the speed to get back to the front and win the race on a two-stop.”