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Verstappen's hussar ride in Brazil: Red Bull's poker too high

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Max Verstappen's hussar ride
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R ed Bull likes to gamble. The team is focused on wins, not on places of honor. For this you like to sacrifice a second place and only get a third place back. Poker started on Saturday. Red Bull relied fully on a rain race, which was not too much of a gamble given the relatively clear weather forecast. Maximum downforce, maximum mechanical grip. In a dry race Ferrari would probably have benefited from it. Mercedes anyway.

Red Bull is in its element in the rain. We have known that at least since the Monaco GP. As fast as Mercedes on rain tires, faster on intermediates. The silver arrows are sensitive to the other flanks of the intermediates and they eat up the rubber on the rear axle too quickly. 'We have not yet fully figured out this riddle,' explains chief engineer Andrew Shovlin.

Mercedes therefore generally remains loyal to rain tires for as long as it can be held responsible for. Red Bull tends more towards mixed tires. Also this time the World Cup runner-up unpacked his joker. Twice. In the first part of the race on lap 13. After the second restart on laps 40 and 43. Both times the rain got heavier after that. 'Not much, but it was enough to lose too much time in the third sector,' said Max Verstappen.

Red Bull lost 23 seconds in the pits

Team principal Christian Horner assisted him Protégé in explaining the strategy that ultimately failed. “We couldn't have beaten Lewis on rain tires. The only chance at first place was a bit of risk. When we put Daniel on intermediates, he immediately set faster sector times. That's why we brought Max in. Our calculation went like this: If we bring the intermediates up to temperature quickly, we will be significantly faster than everyone else. ”

In fact, the tactics didn't do much, even in better conditions. Red Bull won in sector 1, lost in sector 2 and tied with the wet tire league in sector 3. Until the rain got a little stronger again. “It was a tightrope walk on a knife edge. But with more rain we couldn't take the risk in the third sector and we had to decide with a heavy heart to go back to rain tires in the SafetyCar phase, 'regretted Horner.

The two tire changes cost them Red Bull drivers together 46Seconds. Which shrank to 23 because of the SafetyCar phase. 'With the small time difference between the two types of tires, you can never make up for that,' insisted the Mercedes experts. Worse still: Ricciardo fell to 13th place, Verstappen to 14th place. 15 seconds behind the leaders. And that 16 laps before the end. Nothing was more important that day than the position on the track. Nico Rosberg breathed a sigh of relief. “When I saw Max turn into the pits, I knew they were making a mistake. Verstappen sacrificed a second place. “

11 overtaking maneuvers in 16 laps

With the restart on lap 56, Max Verstappen's hussar ride began. The flying Dutchman had already shown his rain qualities with the overtaking maneuvers at Kimi Räikkönen on the home straight and at Nico Rosberg outside in turn 3. But now things really went off. Verstappen overtook 11 cars to the finish. Outside, inside, on the track or next to it. On the home stretch, the back straight, in all possible corners.

One after the other: Gutierrez (lap 56), Wehrlein (57), Bottas (58), Ricciardo (59), Kvyat (60), Ocon (61), Nasr (62), Hülkenberg (65), Vettel (66), Sainz (67) and Perez (69). Hulkenberg provided him with the greatest resistance. Horner was amazed: 'Despite the duels, Max drove faster than Perez when he was free.'

Of course, Verstappen benefited from the fresher tires. But the third man in the race planned every maneuver and pulled it off. “Max drove like in a kart. He had studied all possible lines beforehand and always knew exactly about the grip,” praised Horner. Ricciardo also had no chance against his teammate. The Australian fought with a fogged visor. “I only noticed Max when he was past me. I only saw Kimi's crash on TV. He flew off in front of my nose. It's a shame, because I could do more than just eighth place. ”

Verstappen already spied the best way through the floods behind the SafetyCar. Two examples. “I knew exactly where I was going to overtake Kimi. And I knew that he wouldn't prevent it if he didn't drive on the same stretch of road as me. ”Verstappen passed Rosberg on the outside of Turn 3. “I had to move around to see where I could pass. That's why I tried all possible tracks. ”

The world championship leader was briefed beforehand by his race engineer about Verstappen's secret track. 'When we told Nico, Max flew by,' grinned the Mercedes technicians. 'Hats off to Max,' said Rosberg fairly. “It was really difficult to estimate where the tires still had grip and where they didn't. An inch off it could be too much. Max did a great job. '

Verstappen described his trip in one word:' Exciting '. At the finish line, the child prodigy stuck his right arm out of the cockpit. “The feeling was almostas nice as when I won in Barcelona. “

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