Red Bull unfazed by Hamilton's 'bit of gamesmanship'

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing congratulates pole sitter Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in qualifying parc ferme. 31.07.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest
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Red Bull's Christian Horner was unbothered by Lewis Hamilton's apparent bout of "gamesmanship" in the closing stages of qualifying in Hungary, when the Mercedes driver slowed to a snail's pace in front ofย  Max Verstappen ahead of both drivers' final Q3 effort.

Hamilton who was on provisional pole in Q3 took to the track for a second attempt just ahead of his arch-rival, but appeared to focus on capping Verstappen's pace in order to undermine the Red Bull driver's final flyer.

Whether it was done on purpose or not, the ploy succeeded in impeding Verstappen's efforts but it also crippled Sergio Perez's final Q3 lap as the Mexican failed to cross the line in time to undertake a second flyer.

The track games resulted in a Mercedes front row lock out, but Horner was surprisingly unflustered by the Brackley squad's tactics.

"Lewis has got a hell of a lap in the bank, and then obviously he's just backing things up, up, up, and he doesn't want to give obviously our cars a clean run," Horner said.

"But it's his right to do that. He's got the track position. We haven't got a major issue. It's all about tomorrow now."

Horner was asked how Red Bull would have handled the situation had the roles been reversed.

"I think we'd have probably focused more on the preparation of our tyre, because you can see his lap time was nowhere near his qualifying time.

"He was obviously more interested in what was going on behind. But that's part of the game."

Perez was clearly unhappy to have lost out to Mercedes' tactics, as he initially assumed that he had "plenty of margin" in hand to make it to the finish line before the checkered flag would be deployed.

"Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, and that meant that I basically lost my final attempt," Perez said.

"I think I had a good amount of time left in the car. We did some adjustments, and here is a place where if you get one corner right, there's just plenty of lap time in it, because there's so many corners.

"It's a big shame. At the end, we have a good starting position for tomorrow. But yeah, we knew Mercedes was going to be very strong.

"So I really hope tomorrow we are able to put a lot of pressure onto them."

Mercedes and Red Bull with start Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix with different tyre strategies, with Hamolton and Valtteri Bottas launchinh their race on the medium compund while Verstappen and Perez will line up on the grid shod with Pirelli's less durable soft rubber.

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