Formula 1 Racing

Verstappen and engineer took Miami F1 hard tyre plan to strategists

Race winner Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium

The world champion produced a stunning drive to win the Miami GP from ninth of the grid after electing to take an alternative tyre strategy to the front runners.

Verstappen was able to manage brilliantly the hard tyre for a lengthy first stint, while those at the head of the pack were left struggling with graining on the medium compound.

PLUS: How Verstappen deployed an under-appreciated strong suit to defeat Perez in Miami

Reflecting on the inspired choice, Verstappen said the idea came about following discussions with his engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.

“It was something I wondered about already [on Saturday], together with my engineer,” he explained. “We were quite strongly opinionated on that already.

“Then, of course, you have to discuss it with the team, with the strategists, and they were like: ‘OK. In terms of race time, it was very close between doing a medium/hard or hard/medium, so it didn’t really matter.

“But, of course, when you start on the hard, the risk is a bit higher because we only had one, so if you had a lap one puncture or whatever, then of course your race is a bit tougher.

“But I was happy to take that gamble and do it the other way around. I think even if it was the other way around, of course you always have to look after your tyres, also on the medium – but I just felt like maybe it gave me a better opportunity to get through the field initially.

“By lap 14, I think, I was already on a podium position, so from there onwards it’s mostly about driving in clean air and you have to look after your tyres anyway.”

Race winner Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

While Verstappen committed early to starting on hards, team-mate Sergio Perez said he never considered it as it would have been too much of a risk from up front.

“When you are starting on pole, starting on the hard is much more like a gamble that can go right or wrong with safety cars,” he said.

“I think at the time, none of us were expecting the medium to be [not performing well]… because pretty much the whole grid went for the medium start. I think none of us realised how weak of a tyre it was. I think once we did a few laps on it, we realised that it was quite a poor tyre.”

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Asked if he reckoned he could have won if he had started on hards, Perez said: “I think it’s hard to answer this one because you don’t know what the tyres would have done.


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