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Christian Horner

Horner reveals Verstappen tyre change debate: "Don't f*ck it up!"

Max Verstappen's desire to make an extra pit stop towards the end of the Austrian Grand Prix sparked debate on the Red Bull pit wall.

Christian Horner has lifted the lid on Red Bull's decision to pit Max Verstappen for an extra set of Formula 1 Soft tyres towards the end of the Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen had dominated proceedings at the Red Bull Ring, and with a 23.7 second lead over Charles Leclerc, voiced his desire to trade his ageing Medium tyres for some fresh rubber to earn the bonus point for fastest lap.

The Dutchman would ultimately make an error-free pit stop that saw him emerge from the pits still in the lead, and with his new tyres giving him a huge grip advantage, Verstappen easily succeeded in setting the fastest lap, going over one second quicker than anyone else had managed all race long with a 1:07.012 effort.

Risk vs reward debate on Red Bull pit wall

However, Verstappen's initial request had sparked discussion on the Red Bull pit wall between Team Principal Horner, Verstappen's race engineer Giampiero Lambiase and the team's Sporting Director Jonathan Wheatley, who were reluctant to take the risk of an unnecessary pit stop.

"There was a bit of a discussion of risk versus reward," Horner told media, including RacingNews365.

"We thought, let's cool the tyres down and do it the easier way of not taking the risk of a pit stop which 400 things can go wrong in.

"Then Max was making his opinion quite clear that the tyres were f*cked, so then you start looking at your race, do we take the risk on a below-par set of tyres or is it actually less risk to take the pit stop and put on a set of Softs?

"In the end, we said 'look, let's take the risk' and he still had three seconds margin over Charles when he came out of the pit lane.

"Obviously, it’s a team sport, but you have effectively a chain of command to sign off on key strategic decisions.

"You’ve just got to weigh up that risk versus reward. [Lambiase] was up for it, Jonathan Wheatley was up for it, so it was like: 'Okay, don't f*ck it up'."

F1 2023 Austrian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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