Red Bull driver Max Verstappen is of the strong opinion that his team could have done a “better job” as far as their strategising was concerned during the Bahrain Grand Prix. His boss Christian Horner, meanwhile, does not quite share the same point of view.
Verstappen suffered a late technical problem that denied him the chance to notch a podium finish in the first race of the season.
He gave eventual winner Charles Leclerc a decent run for his money, but a late fuel pump problem left the Dutch driver frustrated and denied him of any points after he was forced to bow out.
It was especially humbling for Red Bull, a team that has established and reaffirmed its credentials significantly in the last few years.
Verstappen and Leclerc were neck-and-neck for major parts of the race and Verstappen later confirmed that he was unhappy the team didn’t take his advice.
During the race, Verstappen was visibly grumpy and expressed this quite clearly over the team radio after he was instructed by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to “bring [his] tyres in gently”.
“Okay, this is now two times that I take it easy on the out-lap when I could have easily been in front,” Verstappen said on radio.
“I’m never, ever doing it again.”
Verstappen stuck to his guns post-race
Once the race ended, Verstappen reiterated his belief that he should have been allowed to push more on his his brand new tyres.
“First of all, I think the pace itself was not what I hoped for compared to Friday.
“But, nevertheless these things can happen. We were in second and actually we had a bit of a fight, even though I think strategy-wise, we could have done a better job to be a bit more aggressive on the out-lap, for example, to be ahead. And you never know what can happen.”
Horner was not quite sure if Verstappen was right. He explained the rationale behind the team’s instructions.
“The problem is it’s always a balance – what you take out the tyre early in the stint, you pay for later in the stint,” Horner said.
“I think possibly we underestimated the undercut. But I think Ferrari had the pace today that, had we got that track position, they would have made the overtake. So we just didn’t quite have their pace today.”
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