One of the defining factors of Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen retook the lead in the drivers’ championships with a second-place finish, was when racers pitted to change tyres.
Lewis Hamilton was hoping to make it through the race on his first set, but ultimately obeyed team orders to switch and couldn’t catch his Red Bull rivals thereafter, with Sergio Perez clinching a podium spot.
Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate, clinched the victory – but Verstappen now leads by six points ahead of Hamilton in the championship race.
Speaking afterwards, the Brit – who finished fifth – acknowledged there was “a little worry of the life of the tyres” but added that the timing of the change was wrong, saying “in hindsight I should have stayed out or come in much earlier”.
Watching on as he tried to get past Sergio Perez was Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who said to Sky Sports that Hamilton’s tyres looked in worrying condition before he made the change.
“At one point you think he is going to get to the end and from what we could see, those tyres were looking dangerous so it was inevitable he was going to have to pit,” he said.
“At the point that they pitted, that was to our maximum advantage because at that point you could see Charles [Leclerc] as well, the tyres overheated and blistered quite badly and then the pace was lost.
“For us, the crucial moment was for when to pit Checo [Perez]. We could have left him out to keep holding Lewis, [but] we decided to pit him to make sure we had track position because we didn’t believe that those tyres would make it to the end of the race.”
The Formula One season heads off for the United States Grand Prix next, with Mercedes 36 points ahead of Red Bull in the Constructor Standings.
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