Red Bull strategist Hannah Schmitz on working relationship with Max Verstappen

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull's Max Verstappen wins the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2022.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen wins the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2022.

Hannah Schmitz, Red Bull’s principal strategy engineer, says Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez take a keen interest in that side of Formula 1.

In particular when it comes to race day, the strategical calls made by a team can be crucial. In the midfield, it can be the difference between scoring points and missing out, while up front it can determine which driver wins the race.

For Red Bull, the 2022 campaign has been spent in that latter category, the Austrian outfit having won nine of the opening 13 races, while the strategical calls made by rivals Ferrari have been criticised on multiple occasions.

Schmitz has been earning the plaudits for her role in Red Bull’s triumphs this season, the team now 97 points clear of Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship, while Verstappen holds an 80-point lead in the Drivers’ standings.


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Schmitz explained both Verstappen and Perez are very much engaged with the process of reaching strategical decisions, although she has yet to work with a driver totally disconnected from this.

“They are definitely both very interested in understanding the strategy and the plans you are putting forward,” said Schmitz on the Red Bull: Beyond the Ordinary podcast.

“They are also really interested in all the pace analysis and everything that’s going on and they ask a lot of questions, so they are definitely engaged.

“I would say though, I think I’ve never worked with a bad driver, or one that’s not interested, because at the end of the day the strategy can have a lot of impact on the race.”

Schmitz explained the team like to create discussion around their strategy plans so everyone has had their say.

“The race engineers obviously work really closely with their individual drivers, they understand them and how to give them the information they need,” Schmitz stated.

“As strategists we also brief them, so we have briefings throughout the weekend, the main ones being pre-qualifying and pre-race.

“We find it’s good for it to be more like a discussion, so we’ll say ‘this is our plan’ and we’ll ask for people’s opinions on things, and make sure people are involved and know the reasoning behind things we are going to do because we find it really useful to be able to work as a team and get the most points as a team.”

Ferrari and their denial is a barrier to toppling Red Bull

It has been a few years since Ferrari were title contenders, so it is understandable there were a few early wobbles as the team readjust to the dynamic of making key decisions at the front.

But Ferrari have continued to shoot themselves in the foot, the most recent round in Hungary a prime example. They had forewarning the hard tyres were not working in the race but still bolted them onto Charles Leclerc’s car and cost him the chance to win – he did not even make the podium.

But more concerning is the fact Ferrari continue to deny strategy is even a weakness. Red Bull spent multiple seasons refining their strategical decisions, taking advantage of any slip-ups while they hounded Mercedes. They learned valuable lessons which serve them very well now their machinery is on the leading level in Formula 1.

If Ferrari refuse to accept they must do better, Red Bull will continue to capitalise.