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Monaco Grand Prix 2023

Horner: Aston Martin surprise let Verstappen 'off the hook'

Verstappen secured victory unchallenged at the Monaco Grand Prix, but could Aston Martin have given Alonso a better chance to fight?

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Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has conceded Max Verstappen was "let off the hook" by Aston Martin at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Verstappen took a huge stride towards a third F1 World Championship with his fourth victory of the season, whilst teammate Sergio Perez failed to score following a miserable weekend.

But the Dutchman's result could have been very different if a key two-lap period had played out differently.

Verstappen was holding on to 53-lap old Medium tyres as rain began to fall in the principality, with Fernando Alonso drawing to within 10 seconds behind the race leader.

When the Aston Martin pitted, Medium tyres were fitted rather than Intermediates despite the rain intensifying between Casino Square and Portier.

Verstappen had hit the wall in that section in the meantime, with Intermediates now clearly the tyre to be on. Alonso was therefore forced to pit again and forfeit any advantage that could have been gained from his rival's error.

Speaking to media, including RacingNews365.com, Horner explained: "We had enough margin with the nine or 10 seconds that Max had when he pitted that even five or six seconds off the pace, we would have still been three or four [seconds] up the road.

"I was surprised they took the Medium tyre, so that totally let us off the hook. Then it was a question of 'ok Max, get it to the pits and let us get the car turned around'."

We didn't need to pressure

Verstappen was one of the few drivers who waited for the switch to rain tyres despite starting on the Mediums, but Horner insisted there was no risk to keeping him out to wait for the change.

"We had so much margin, we didn't need to pressure and get the decision wrong," said Horner.

"We had the time and the circuit, it wasn't like it was flooding with rain so that gave us the ability to lose four, five, six seconds on an in-lap and still get out ahead of Fernando.

"Basically, when we saw him leave the pits on slicks it was a question of 'don't even try'."

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F1 2023 Monaco Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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