Risky strategy calls ‘part of our DNA’ says Red Bull boss Horner
Red Bull boss Christian Horner says risk taking and quick thinking when it comes to strategy have become part of the team’s DNA, as they learn how to battle what is an inherently faster Mercedes car in 2020.
Max Verstappen took victory in last week’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, after the team took a risk in qualifying and elected to try to get him through to Q3 on the hard tyre, so he would be able to start on that compound in the race.
He was the only leading driver to try it, and in the end it worked superbly as, starting from fourth on the grid, he was able to leapfrog Nico Hulkenberg and both Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to win the race.
But it was not without risk – in fact it was a gamble that very nearly didn’t pay off, as our race debrief from last week explains – but Horner says that swashbuckling approach has become ingrained in the team.
“It’s part of our DNA that we’re prepared to take risks, we’re prepared to stick our head out of the window sometimes,” he said in the run up to the Spanish Grand Prix.
“It’s not just the strategy team, it’s the whole team – I think they’re doing an amazing job, particularly trackside, because we don’t have the quickest car at the moment, and therefore this team has proved itself time and time again to be able to adapt, to be quick-thinking and I think strategically we’ve been sharp this year.”
Verstappen may have taken just the one win so far this year as Mercedes have taken the spoils in four out of the first five rounds, but Horner explained that Red Bull could have won in Austria as well, again thanks to clever strategy.
“We could have won that first race in Austria with the strategy there,” he said. “Obviously it worked in Budapest to split the Mercedes as well, and of course taking the brave call that Max had to deliver on Saturday starting on the hard tyre [at Silverstone].”
Verstappen will be starting P3 on the grid for this afternoon's Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and no doubt the Red Bull strategists are already working out if there's a way they can run his race to get him ahead of the Mercedes duo to take win number two of the season.