Christian Horner defends ‘optimum’ decision behind Max Verstappen pit stop

Sam Cooper
Christian Horner on the pit wall. Baku, April 2023.

Christian Horner on the pit wall. Baku, April 2023.

Christian Horner has defended his team’s decision to pit Max Verstappen at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix which cost the Dutchman the race win.

Verstappen was leading when his compatriot Nyck de Vries clipped the wall at Turn 5 in lap 10 and brought an early end to his race.

With De Vries not beached or stuck in a wall, Red Bull were under the impression that the clean-up would be a quick one and as such, decided to make the most of the yellow flag by calling the race leader in.

But no sooner had Verstappen swapped onto the softs and departed the pit lane, the full Safety Car was brought out, giving Verstappen’s opponents a practically free pit stop.

While the Dutchman was able to climb to P3 before the restart, it ultimately cost him the win with Sergio Perez proving too good on the streets of Baku.

Despite seeing Verstappen miss out, Red Bull boss Horner defended the team’s call to bring Verstappen in, believing it was the optimum time to do so.

“It was the optimum time to stop from a performance point of view,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

“De Vries hasn’t hit the wall, the engine was still running and to us, it looked like he was going to reverse out and go from there.

“So we had already committed to the stop and of course, with 20-20 hindsight, you can always say should have, would have, could have but sometimes things like that just don’t go your way.

“His misfortune was Checo’s good fortune.”

Verstappen, who still leads the Drivers’ Standings, was not too angered by the team’s decision and admitted that it was a case of bad luck.

“I mentioned that I was losing a bit of the rear grip of the tyres because you can for sure always get a little bit out of them,” the two-time World Champion said.

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“They called me in and then the car stopped. These kinds of things we will analyse anyway but definitely unlucky.

“I was close in the beginning (to Checo) and within the DRS but when you are trying to follow for so long around here you just overheat your tyres.

“I started to slide a bit more and was not really happy with the balance a bit more in control.

“The last 10 laps I felt good again and was catching but it was just too late.

“It was a good day for understanding the car and what I need from the car a bit more.”