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Formula 1

Horner expected 'inevitable' Hamilton stop: Those tyres were looking dangerous

Red Bull's Christian Horner said they never expected Hamilton to be able to make it through the entire Turkish Grand Prix without making a pit-stop.

Hamilton turkey
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To news overview © Mercedes

Red Bull's Christian Horner said it never looked likely to them that Lewis Hamilton could make it through the entirety of the Turkish Grand Prix without making a pit-stop.

With the worn Intermediates working well as the race entered the closing stages, it briefly looked as though the drivers who elected not to stop, ie. Mercedes' Hamilton and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, might have stolen a march on those who had pitted for fresh Intermediates.

However, their pace eventually dropped away, with both coming into the pits for fresh tyres in the last 10 laps.

Red Bull team boss Horner said that they never believed Hamilton would go the whole race without stopping, which is why they committed early to a stop with both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

"Well, I'm not on their pit wall, so obviously [it's] difficult to comment, but I think it sounds like Lewis overruled the team and it's difficult to say... at one point you think, 'He's gonna get to the end!'," Horner told Sky Sports, when asked about Mercedes' strategy call.

"From what we could see, those tyres were looking pretty dangerous, so it was inevitable he was going to have to pit. Obviously, the point that they pitted was to our maximum advantage because, at that point, you could see with Charles as well, the tyres overheated, they blistered quite badly.

"Then the pace is lost so, for us, the crucial moment was when to pit Checo [Perez]. We could have left him out to keep holding Lewis, [but] we decided to pit him to make sure we had that track position, because we didn't believe those tyres would make it to the end of the race."

One concern was that Hamilton could get far enough into the race to possibly make a switch to the slick tyres, which would have been a strategic masterstroke. But again, Horner said that it wasn't a big concern as the conditions never looked likely to be good enough for dry tyres.

"From talking to the drivers, we're getting the feedback, you're looking at the tyres," Horner said. "Looking at the amount of time to run, we never believed that we'd get to slicks.

"These tyres had to go through a phase, you had to almost machine them down to get to that slick, and it was about not beasting them too early, so that's why we went first with Max.

"With Checo we decided, 'OK, let's bank the position', and then Lewis is going to have to pass him on track, and Checo did an amazing job today."

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: Are Mercedes and Hamilton hiding reliability problems in F1 title race?

Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th Grand Prix win to move into the championship lead, but it's Red Bull and Max Verstappen who will be happiest after the Russian Grand Prix.

F1 2021 Turkish Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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