Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Max Verstappen's performance in the Spanish Grand Prix "was absolutely exemplary".
Verstappen became the youngest winner in the history of F1 with victory in Barcelona, holding off Kimi Raikkonen after Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided at the start of the race. With Verstappen having been promoted from Toro Rosso ahead of this weekend, Horner was full of praise for the Dutch driver.
“It’s been an unbelievable weekend and Max’s performance from the moment he stepped into the car to the chequered flag was absolutely exemplary," Horner said. "He’s not put a wheel wrong. He’s been quick, measured, mature, he’s defended incredibly well against a seasoned pro like Kimi and to score his first grand prix victory now, becoming the youngest grand prix victor on his debut for the team, is sort of fairytale stuff."
Explaining how the race panned out - with Verstappen winning after a three-stop strategy saw Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo drop to third and fourth respectively - Horner praised the 18-year-old's ability to make the tyres last.
"We obviously knew we had a chance for a big score today after Nico and Lewis got together at Turn 3 but the Ferraris have had a really competitive car this year and in free practice and it was always going to be tricky to keep them behind us.
"Certainly in clean air they probably did have a slight advantage on us but it is obviously pretty tricky to overtake around here so that’s why we elected to split the strategies because it wasn’t obvious after the first stop which was going to be the quicker route, the three-stop or the two-stop and we felt that Sebastian in clear air looked to be the fastest car on circuit at the time and that was the question: 'How are we going to beat Vettel?'
"We felt by splitting our strategies from a team perspective gave us both options because it wasn’t transparently clear. We knew that the two-stop was going to be under a lot of pressure at the end of the race in terms of degradation and obviously Max has been able to look after his tyres incredibly well to make sure that he had just enough left to fend off Kimi over the last five or six laps. Incredible.
"It was a shame for Daniel to get a puncture with a couple of laps to go just as it was starting to get exciting as the cars were obviously getting into more and more degradation.”