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Horner denies trying to hold up Hamilton: That's why we went on so long

Horner denies trying to hold up Hamilton: "That's why we went on so long"

03-05-2021 15:33 Last update: 21:03


Sergio Perez clearly had a different tyre strategy to his teammate or the Mercedes drivers in Portugal. It even looked like the Mexican was going to be sacrificed by Red Bull Racing to keep Lewis Hamilton up as much as possible.

Going for the fastest lap

While Max Verstappen made his pit stop on lap 35, followed shortly after by Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton, Perez drove on until lap 51. The new teammate of Verstappen only went into the pits for new tires after he was overtaken by Hamilton. This created quite the impression that Perez was being kept out as long as possible to hold up the reigning world champion.

However, according to Christian Horner, this was certainly not the case. "It was more about getting on the soft tyre to have a go for the fastest lap at that point," the Red Bull Racing team boss told Motorsport.com. "That's why we went so long. The soft tyre didn't have a lot of range, and if you abuse it on one lap, of course it becomes less."

Solid fourth place

According to Horner, Red Bull Racing dared to go for this strategy because Perez was in a solid fourth place. "There was no possibility of overtaking the cars in front of us and taking out the cars behind us. So we thought, 'OK, let's run the petrol, go to a point where it makes sense to go to the finish and try to do the fastest lap'."

Failed strategy

Yet Red Bull Racing's strategy ultimately failed to deliver. Perez did manage to set the fastest lap, but with the Mexican then falling so far back, Bottas was able to make a safe extra pit stop to eventually set the fastest lap.

Then Red Bull also made an attempt with Verstappen. "Sergio was the first to claim the time, but Valtteri just managed to sneak in a pit window to have a go. So we thought: okay, we'll respond with Max, and try with Max. The guys made a pit stop of 1.9 seconds and he would have made that too, if it wasn't for the fact that we didn't see anyone else getting the penalty that Max got."

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