Sebastian Vettel’s “very frustrating” error in the British Grand Prix cost Max Verstappen a potential second-placed finish, according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
Verstappen had overtaken Vettel for third place around the outside of Stowe but ran slightly wide and the Ferrari driver tried to fight back into the next corner. Vettel locked up under braking and ran into the back of Verstappen, sending both cars into the gravel and promoting Charles Leclerc to third place, while Verstappen recovered (pictured above trailing gravel after his spin) to finish fifth and Vettel was classified 16th after a 10-second time penalty.
“Obviously from our point of view it was very frustrating because it knocked Max off a guaranteed podium… which spot on the podium we don’t know,” Horner said. “He certainly would have been second on track (after Valtteri Bottas’ second stop) and then whether Valtteri would have been able to catch him or not, we’d have had to wait and see. So that was very frustrating.
“It was remarkable the car held together — to keep going with the damage he had was quite incredible. At least he managed to finish the race and get some points out of it. So frustrating, because he’d made a great pass on Seb and I can only imagine it was a complete misjudgment by Seb to lock up and hit him the way he did.
“(What’s wrong with Vettel) is impossible to say. Unfortunately he’s made a mistake and we’ve been penalized for it. But I’m sure he’s as frustrated as we are.”
Verstappen had been fighting with Leclerc for much of the race so his true potential pace was not seen, but Horner believes Mercedes had an advantage over Red Bull that would have made for an exciting closing stint.
“I thought it was great racing with Max and Leclerc, really great racing. In the first stint there was some really good wheel-to-wheel stuff. Leclerc had the benefit of the softer tire initially, but once Max generated the temperature he was pushing hard. The Ferrari is very, very quick in a straight line so very hard to pass around here. But he certainly didn’t give up trying.
“We then went for the pit stop, Leclerc came in at the same time and the boys absolutely nailed it fractionally ahead of Leclerc. He’d learned his lesson that there’s more space here than there is at Monaco. Drove down the pit lane together and got the position on track but with cold tires he ran wide at Turn 3, I think it was, which allowed Leclerc to get back ahead. Some great racing between them and it just felt like we had a quicker car.
“I don’t know if we quite had the race pace for Mercedes. I think we could have beaten Bottas with the way things were going… even when he’d passed Sebastian he would have had track position to Bottas. I don’t know if Bottas was managing a problem in that final part there but he would have certainly had track position and it would have been down to Valtteri to pass him.”