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Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2023

Horner explains Verstappen pit stop blunder

Red Bull opted to pit Max Verstappen despite Nyck de Vries being shown stranded at the side of the track during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has explained why Max Verstappen was pitted before the Safety Car was deployed with Nyck de Vries stranded at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The AlphaTauri driver had broken his steering when colliding with the apex wall at Turn 5, coming to a halt before hitting the barriers at Turn 6.

The Dutchman still had his engine running and so Verstappen pitted, given the incident was at the start of the Medium tyre pit window.

But unbeknown to Red Bull and viewers watching the race broadcast was de Vries' collision with the wall, with the Milton Keynes-based outfit expecting the rookie to reverse and carry on from what was seemingly a small error.

With de Vries stranded, however, the Safety Car was deployed as Verstappen exited the pits, leaving him behind Charles Leclerc and eventual race winner Sergio Perez, though the two-time World Champion recovered to second.

"It was the optimum time to stop from a performance point of view," explained Horner, speaking to Sky Sports F1.

"De Vries hasn't hit the wall [at the point where he had stopped], the engine was still running and to us, it looked like he was going to reverse out and go from there.

"So we had already committed to the stop and of course, with 20-20 hindsight, you can always say should have, would have, could have but sometimes things like that just don't go your way.

"His misfortune was Checo's good fortune."

Perez 'sensational'

Perez bounced back from difficulties at the Australian Grand Prix weekend to secure a vital victory in his quest to become World Champion.

Hailing the Mexican's performance, Horner added: "He has had a sensational weekend.

"He has always been outstanding at this track, I don't know what it is about Azerbaijan but he absolutely excels here.

"He got a little lucky with the Safety Car but then he converted that, he pulled the gap, had the pace and really controlled the race so a phenomenal drive by him all weekend."

F1 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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