Explained: Why Verstappen shouldn't have pitted twice in Hungary

10-08-2019 08:30
by Nicolás Quarles van Ufford
General
Explained: Why Verstappen shouldn't have pitted twice in Hungary

Former Williams Head of Performance Rob Smedley has explained why Max Verstappen couldn't have pitted for a second time during the Hungarian Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton did so, as he explains Mercedes had simply performed a textbook undercut.

Verstappen was fending off Hamilton quite well for the bulk of the race, with the duo being on equal strategies. 

Then, with just over 20 laps to go, Mercedes suddenly called Hamilton in for a second stop, bolting on fresh medium tyres he could chase the Dutchman down with. 

The five-time champion put in some blistering laps to close the gap to Verstappen again, with the 21-year-old hitting a wall with his very old hard tyres. He was a sitting duck in lap 67 of the 70, when Hamilton cruised past with DRS and took the lead from Verstappen for the first time with four laps to go.

So, why didn't Red Bull Racing pit Verstappen a second time when Hamilton did so?

"If Red Bull had pitted the lap after he would have come out behind Hamilton due to what we call the undercut," Smedley explains on Formula1.com.

"Lewis entered the pits on the lap of his pit stop just over one second behind. At that point we can say that Lewis’s car was around 0.5s/lap faster judging by how fast he caught Max after their first pit stops.

"We need to note that immediately after the pit stop in question Max has now got tyres that are more than 20 laps old compared to the new ones that Lewis had just fitted and this will have been equivalent to another 1.0s of lap time.

"If we add the raw pace to the tyre delta then it means that in the out-lap alone Lewis would have made up too much time for Max to have come in the following lap and still be in front."

That meant Red Bull's hands were tied; they just had to hope Verstappen could squeeze just enough performance out of his hards to keep Hamilton at bay. A second stop simply wasn't an option.

"Red Bull did exactly the right thing by staying out, otherwise they were committing themselves to second place rather than playing the only cards they had and staying out in the lead for as long as possible. You have to remember that Lewis was a little bit faster on the hard tyre and in addition he had a 'free' pit stop (meaning he could stop and not lose position)."

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