The Ross Brawn column: Why I’d have made the same call as Red Bull on Verstappen’s pit stop
The British Grand Prix burst into life in the closing stages, with a series of tyre deflations delivering an unpredictable climax at Silverstone. Formula 1 Managing Director, Motorsport, Ross Brawn discusses the key talking points from the race.
A slowburner that came to life
Even when a race looks like it is coming to a predictable end, Formula 1 has a great habit of throwing up some unexpected results, and the British Grand Prix was a fine example. It was a eventually a cliffhanger – and while it was a little bit of a slowburner of a race at the front, it all came to life in the last few laps, with a series of tyre deflations.
The causes are currently unknown, but Pirelli are in the midst of an investigation and say they should know the root cause of the problems in the coming days.
Mercedes were faced with a difficult decision when Valtteri reported he was experiencing severe vibrations. We’ve seen it many times over the years, when the team faces a difficult call and a bigger problem comes from trying to manage the issue until the end of the race.
Undoubtedly, Mercedes will reflect on the decision they made and will learn from it. As we know, hindsight is 20/20 vision and I’ve regretted many such decisions I’ve made in my time on the pit wall.
Lewis’s race looked a cakewalk until the last lap of the race. It wasn’t of course, because he was driving superbly for the whole of the race. However, let us reflect on what he achieved on that last lap. No front left tyre on the car and he still took Copse and Stowe corners at more than 130km/h.
He reached 230km/h on the straight with only three wheels, and a front left tyre flailing around - absolutely mind blowing. He judged it to perfection to win the race by a few seconds and a brilliant example of the amazing talents and bravery of Lewis.
Red Bull were unlucky with their decision to pit Verstappen – but I’d have done the same
As things worked out, Red Bull’s decision to pit Max Verstappen on the penultimate lap cost them the race, but they wouldn’t have known that at the time.
As soon as Bottas did such a slow lap and then had to pit, Verstappen who was promoted to second was afforded a free pit stop. I don’t know in Red Bull’s mind whether they were thinking that because there was a tyre problem, they would give themselves some insurance or whether they were going for the extra point for fastest lap, or probably a combination of both.
I’m sure they would never have imagined for a moment that the failure with Bottas at that stage would be replicated and that Lewis would suffer the same type of issue, so I don’t think they made a bad decision.
I think it was an unlucky decision, because as it subsequently proved, he could have won the race. He was only in that position because of what happened to Bottas. I would have made the same call as it appeared to be a free pit stop.
Hulkenberg’s return was a frustrating disappointment
Being unable to start the British Grand Prix, having been parachuted in at short notice to replace Sergio Perez was a real disappointment for the Hulk because the midfield battle – which was fantastic – would have suited him down to the ground. He was always a pretty good fighter in those circumstances.
He would have struggled physically as he was already starting to feel the effects of the loadings on his neck and the race would have been pretty tough on him, but that is something that he probably would have welcomed if nothing else to get him into better shape next week. He was doing a good job, and it was a real shame that happened.
The midfield fight is glimpse into the future
My dream is that with the regulation changes that are coming in from the next two years, particularly with the budget cap and the new car regs, the fantastic fight we saw in the midfield will be replicated at the front.
At the moment, the teams with the biggest budgets in Formula 1 are winning. I’m not trying to take the credit away from them, they’re doing a fabulous job, but they’re doing it with a budget much bigger than their midfield competitors.
The objective of the budget cap in the next few years, but more importantly in 2022 when there is a new car to do, is that we will have a lot more teams at the front, with small differences in performance, and the drivers really showing off their talents.
When the midfield battle we saw at Silverstone is replicated at the front we will have some great racing to look forward to.
Leclerc is outdriving the car
Charles’ podium was fortuitous, following Valtteri’s tyre problem, but considering the difficulties they are having with the car, his performance was hugely impressive.
He continues to crunch out big results that are beyond what the car is really capable of. He is leaving us all waiting with baited breath for when they get the car sorted out. He’s driving quite exceptionally.
Sebastian had a horrible weekend, and you get those. Clearly, Charles’s result was a bonus and Ferrari clearly need to improve the car – and quickly. But there are a lot of good and experienced people at Ferrari and I’m optimistic.
Taking a stand against racism
After a challenging few weekends, the message was clear ahead of the British Grand Prix – the drivers, teams and sport stand united in the fight against racism.
The video featuring all of the drivers on the grid, voicing their support for the initiative, was powerful, as was the collective respectful stand they took ahead of the national anthem on the grid. Something Formula 1 can be proud of, and something that will now be backed by real actions.