Verstappen went 'rallying' with aggressive strategy

© XPB 

Max Verstappen acknowledged that today's Spanish Grand Prix had been all about the first corner, and his aggressive strategy against pole sitter Lando Norris.

Verstappen started alongside Norris on the front row and got the better launch, but Norris moved over to defend the line into turn 1 and squeezed Verstappen off onto the grass.

Verstappen recovered and still got past the McLaren, but by that point George Russell had managed to jump them both after starting in the Mercedes from fourth place behind them.

"I had to do a bit of rallying on the straight," Verstappen told the media in parc ferme. "I had to take to the grass a little bit, which lost me a bit of momentum. And then of course, we're braking quite late into Turn 1.

"What made the race was the beginning," he continued. "I took the lead on lap 3 [from Russell] and then I had a buffer. Then in that first stint I could eke out the gap a little bit.

"After that, I had to drive a defensive race against Lando and McLaren," he explained. "They were very quick today, and in the last few laps, they were very fast. But we did everything well.

"Once I was in the lead I could look after my tyres a bit better, and that definitely made my race," he added. "They get very hot with all the high-speed corners, so you're sliding around quite a lot and it's just a management race.

"We drove quite an aggressive strategy, but luckily it played out in the end. It was quite close, but I am very happy to win!"

"Max drove a brilliant race and I think strategically we got into a stride," Horner told Sky Sports F1 in the paddock in Barcelona. "We always felt confident that with the tools we had, we had enough in hand.

"We went for an optimum race time and it paid off," he asserted. "We knew that McLaren would come back with the overlap on the tyre at the end of the race, but we just had enough in hand.

"It is fine margins. I think the two of them were circa 18 seconds ahead of the rest of the field," he said. "Lando had the longevity, they went for a slightly different strategy but in the end, we got the job done and took maximum points.

"There was only one corner we could see Lando was quicker, which was in turn 1. The rest, Max had it covered, so it was always going to get closer because of that tyre offset and the pit-stops."

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates with the team in parc ferme. 23.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

"It was so decisive and the first lap was crucial," Horner said. "The pass on George was even more important. He needed to put the move on George quickly, and then get the tyres under control. I can't express how difficult that is.

"On one hand, you're telling the driver to 'cruise and look after the tyres', but obviously he went for it and got the pass done and then executed a perfect race.

"He did it the hard way, around the outside," Horner noted. "It was close, hard and fair racing between the two of them, and we were relieved to get it done. It was crucial.

"He just doesn't mess about. When he's coming up to traffic, he is so decisive, and I think that is one of his key qualities. He is going to go for it, and the other drivers know that."

Sergio Perez also finished in the points for the first time since Imola with a last lap pass putting him into P8 after he started with a three-place grid penalty for an infraction in Montreal and opted for a three-stop strategy.

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