Max Verstappen insisted he had no intention of wasting a rare chance to put pressure on Mercedes as Red Bull’s gamble paid off in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
The Dutchman had set his fastest time in Q2 on hard tyres – an unusual strategy but one that enabled him to run longer in his first stint than Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, who both had to pit early to shed their mediums.
Not only that but Verstappen started well at Silverstone, immediately claiming P3 and running close to the two Mercedes – too close, in fact, for his race engineer GP Lambiase who urged him to back off and preserve his tyres.
But Verstappen had no intention of doing that, retorting “I’m not going to sit behind like a grandma”, and the approach he and Red Bull adopted paid dividends with the team’s first win of the season – not only that, they had not triumphed at Silverstone since Mark Webber’s victory in 2012.
YESS BOYSS!! I’m incredibly happy with this win, I didn’t see this one coming! 💪 Thanks to @redbullracing and @HondaRacingF1 for their continued hard work 👏 Now let’s celebrate and hydrate🏆🍾👏 #KeepPushing # F170 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/hpymhkoq79
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) August 9, 2020
“I didn’t see it coming,” admitted Verstappen, who finished second in last week’s British Grand Prix at the same venue when he was closing fast at the end on Lewis Hamilton’s limping, punctured Mercedes.
“We haven’t really had an opportunity in all the races so far to push them (Mercedes) and I could see we WERE pushing them. I wasn’t just going to cruise behind, I had nothing to lose. Worst case P3, best case I win the race and that’s what happened today.
“It’s an incredible result, of course, to win here and we just had a great day. Everything worked out well, we had the right strategy, everything ran smoothly so incredibly happy to win.
“After the first stint it seemed like we were really good on tyres and we had a lot of pace in the car. I didn’t have a lot of tyre issues at all. We just kept pushing,
“Once the two Mercedes cars had pitted for the first time I could pick up my pace and I never really had any tyre drop-off. That was surprising but I was quite happy with it. It meant I could do my lap times and that was enough.”
Verstappen admitted the hot temperatures and softer tyre compounds this week had created something of a perfect storm that had made the World Champions vulnerable.
“This creates more trouble for Mercedes, they start blistering and having trouble with tyres,” he said. “Clearly we didn’t have that today, plus having a different strategy to them at the beginning made our race.”